Pentagon-Trained Syrian Rebels Claim US Threatened to Bomb Them

Recent reports indicate differences — and defeatism — among Americans and rebels in southern Syria

Thu, Aug 3, 2017
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Boxed-in they're turning against each other

RI reported before that US ordered the rebel group Shuhada al-Qaryatayn (Martyrs of Qaryatayn) out of the joint US-rebel base at al-Tanf in southern Syria. The rebel group had to leave because it did not agree with the new US demand that it should stop picking a fight with the Syrian army.

But it doesn't end here. A spokesman for the group claims the US threatened to bomb the outfit. Supposedly after the split the US optimistically sought to get back the heavy weapons it had equipped the group with. When the rebels first refused to hand them over, the Pentagon then supposedly threatened to bomb the outfit it had trained, equipped, and salaried for something like two years.

Supposedly the two then struck a compromise where the rebels returned some of the weapons.

I don't necessarily believe that Pentagon was going to bomb its offspring and neither should you. But it is definitely news that a US-trained group made the public accusation that the US military threatened to do so. This again shows that the split between the two is real, and that Pentagon right now wants southern Syria calm. 

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The seeds of the split were sown on June 9th when the Syrian army in a surprise maneuver advanced to the Iraqi border and cut off the US-occupied zone from ISIS-held territory.

Additionally there have been reports that two separate groups of fighters from the other US-trained group at Tanf, the Commandos of the Revolution (Maghaweir Al-Thowra), defected to territory under the control of the loyalist camp. Obviously there is no way for us to verify that, so we're taking it with the requisite fistful of salt, but it sure is a fun thought that US-trained rebels are now taking their Pentagon training and equipment and making them available to the Syrian army.

It would truly be a pathetic end to the once highly ambitious "New Syrian Army" project that, it was still hoped a year ago, would secure vast swathes of southern and eastern Syria for the Pentagon.

Lebanon's Al-Akhbar paper is even reporting that Americans are in talks to evacuate their illegal al-Tanf base, which sounds like a needless complication compared to just simply leaving.

In the meantime, however, the US and the Revolutionary Commandos rebels continue to perform bizarre joint "anti-ISIS" patrols—though the nearest ISIS positions are some 150 kilometers to the east of them, with heavy Syrian army presence in between: