Obama administration launched a $500 million training program in May to train up to 5,400 fighters a year in what was seen as a hard test of President Barack Obama’s strategy of getting local partners to combat against the Islamic State.
Many Syrian fighters are being trained by US army officers in Turkey as part of the US military training program, after completing their training the new trained fighters will return to Syria to fight against the Islamic State [IS] in suburbs of Aleppo which is located in northern Syria.
According to many Syrian fighters who left the US training program conformed that the goal of this training program is to fight extremists only like Islamic State, and not against Syrian government troops and militiamen. This has caused many fighters to leave the training program insisting that fighting against Assad regime is their top priority.
Recently 54 US trained fighters from the new formed “Division 30” entered to Syria through the northern border has sparked a large media coverage on them and labelled them as the “new Syrian forces” provided by US air support that will combat IS in northern Syria.
Division 30 logo / All4Syria
Nusra Front [al-Qaeda affiliated group] waited for few days and then launched an attacked against the US trained fighters abducting 12 of them including their leader Nadim al-Hassan and killing 5 others, also it accused them of being “US puppets” in Syria. Later Nusra Front released a statement conforming it had detained a number of Syrian fighters trained by the US and warned any others they should abandon the training program.
Many US trained fighters had to seek protection from their ally Jaysh al-Thuwar [FSA group] from the attacks of Nusra Front. US reacted swiftly for this abduction and launched airstrikes against Nusra Front bases in Azaz in the suburbs of Aleppo which killed more than 20 fighters according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [SOHR].
Some experts believe that US has purposely deployed them closely to Nusra Front positions in order to get Nusra Front’s attention to attack them, since they have a negative view on anything that is related or supported by US or the West so later US could use this attack as an excuse to bomb Nusra Front’ positions. Probably US will use its trained fighters to combat against Nusra Front as well alongside Islamic State [IS] since both are designated as terrorist organizations.
Nusra Front has managed to defeat and to abduct the US trained fighters of the Division 30 rapidly which has allowed US to target them now more than any time before especially when Turkey has allowed the US to its airbase in Incirlik to target IS and Nusra Front positions in Syria.
Nusra Front fighters / Sham press
Will the US trained fighters be able to combat Nusra Front and Islamic State at the same time? Will they be able to defeat them and for who long will it take? Will Nusra Front win more support from other Jihadist groups and Syrian people?
Many Syrian revolutionary groups that would fall under the US definition of “moderate” groups have openly expressed their frustration with United States narrow focus on the Islamic State only. United States war on extremists in Syria will not be decisive because it will take more time training Syrian fighters after many of them have lost the interest of joining it. Also it will take a long time to end this war, which will cost them millions of dollars and lives of many Syrian fighters.