In further blow to training program, U.S.-backed rebels abducted in Syria

The Washington Post reports: The debut of a new U.S.-trained force in Syria suffered another setback on Tuesday when five American-backed rebels were apparently abducted by al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the latest of several attacks on that group in the past week.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss events in Syria, said it appeared that five Syrian fighters allied with the United States had been taken prisoner in the past few days by another armed group, probably Jabhat al-Nusra. Military officials said the Syrians appeared to have been abducted after they set out from their compound near the Syrian town of Azaz.

But with no U.S. troops on the ground to track the situation more closely, the official cautioned that the details of what took place remained murky. “It is a dynamic situation on the ground there,” he said.

News of the abduction comes several days after the leader of Division 30, the Syrian opposition unit from which the United States has pulled cadets for its new training program, and other members of his unit were captured by the Islamist group. At the time, U.S. officials stressed that none of those abducted had gone through recent training in Turkey. [Continue reading…]

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