US Weapons Drops Arming Unvetted Syrian Rebel Factions

Pentagon Insists Rebels Don't Need to Be Vetted

Past US programs of smuggling arms into Syria for “vetted” rebel factions have mostly failed, and left a lot of weapons in the hands of Islamist factions like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Incredibly, with the return to throwing arms at Syria’s Civil War, the US is moving away from the vetting part.

Pentagon officials are conceding that this week’s airdrops of weapons and ammunition to rebels in northeast Syria are going to wholly unvetted forces, saying it is a “moot point” since the rebels are meant to be fighting ISIS, and not the Syrian government.

The problem here is pretty clear, because one of the big reasons for vetting was to try to keep US weaponry out of the hands of factions that might give them to terrorist groups. That the factions are in close proximity to ISIS doesn’t “moot” the question of whether the groups are ultimately going to sell or give the arms to ISIS.

Pentagon officials are refusing to talk about the “restrictions” on these arms drops, but did say that they “ask” the factions to use them to fight ISIS, and apparently that’s tantamount to a full-fledged vetting process these days.

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.