Pentagon: US Never Trained Rebel Who Gave al-Qaeda Weapons

Insists He Only Did It to Avoid Ambush

Pentagon officials are trying to get a handle on the narrative on last week’s surrender by US-trained Syrian rebels of large amounts of weaponry and vehicles to al-Qaeda, insisting the commander only agreed to do so to avoid an ambush by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front that might’ve gotten his men killed.

This is in stark contrast to the reports on the ground, in which the commander bragged he only joined up the with the US scheme to get the weapons in the first place. Adding to the confusion, Pentagon spokesmen say they never trained the commander in question in the first place.

Congress gave the Pentagon $500 million to train a new “pro-US” rebel force, dubbed the New Syrian Forces (NSF). The first class of 54 was wiped out in short order, with at most “four or five” remaining. The group that gave their arms to al-Qaeda was the second class to go through the “vetting and training process.”

But now officials say the commander never went to the training camp to receive any training at all, suggesting the US gave him all this high-end gear and command over this band of newly minted rebels without more than a cursory introduction, then watched as he immediately handed the gear to al-Qaeda.

It’s incredible, then, to see that the Pentagon is trying to defend the commander, saying he only surrendered the arms to protect the NSF forces, when their connection to him was tenuous, at best, and throwing large amounts of weaponry at him seems to have been the beginning and end of their relationship.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.