The Washington Post reports: American-trained Syrian fighters gave at least a quarter of their U.S.-provided equipment to al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria early this week, the U.S. Central Command said late Friday.
In a statement correcting earlier assertions that reports of the turnover were a “lie” and a militant propaganda ploy, the command said it was subsequently notified that the Syrian unit had “surrendered” some of its equipment — including six pickup trucks and a portion of its ammunition — to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s arm in Syria.
The acknowledgment is the latest discouraging report regarding the $500 million train-and-equip program, which Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, head of Central Command, said last week had only “four or five” trained Syrian fighters active in Syria. Since then, the military has said approximately 70 fighters have been added.
The Centcom statement called the new information on the equipment, “if accurate . . . very concerning and a violation of the Syria train and equip program guidelines.”
It said the equipment had been turned over voluntarily, adding that the New Syrian Force had indicated that on Monday and Tuesday, it “gave” the equipment to a suspected Jabhat al-Nusra “intermediary.” [Continue reading…]