U.S.-trained fighters eviscerated in Syria by al-Qaeda

One of the first U.S.-trained units of the planned 5,000-strong force of Syrian “moderates” the Obama administration has been intensely promoting has been engaged in major fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria – and was beaten badly.  Nadeem Hasan, the commander of this U.S.-trained force, known as “Division 30,” has been captured by al-Nusra.  The fighting took place near the Division 30 headquarters in A'zaz.  The city of A'zaz is located approximately 25 miles north of the key city of Aleppo and only 5 miles from the Turkish border.

The 60-man U.S.-trained force was operating in northern Syria after receiving training in Turkey by the U.S. military.  The unit was quickly overwhelmed, with five killed and another 18 wounded.  The remaining militia fighters fled to territory currently held by the YPG – the Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastina Gel – meaning People's Protection Units, or People's Defense Units,‎ who have been among the primary targets of the Turkish military’s so-called “anti-ISIS operations,” the result of the agreement between Turkey and the Obama administration to allow U.S. forces to base in Turkey, with Turkey joining the fight against ISIS. 

It definitely does not look good that the organization couldn’t even defend its own headquarters.  Those of us who have been closely following the training program have been critical of the restraints imposed by the State Department on the Department of Defense and the U.S. military trainers, both training curriculum and the type of and level of training.  Of particular concern is their ability to engage against ISIS forces, whose brutality and ruthlessness on the battlefield are apparent.

The writer is a retired USAF Colonel and a 30-years career senior intelligence and political-military affairs officer -- he served as special mission intelligence officer on the CIA's Asymmetric Warfare Task Force, as deputy director for Intelligence for U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) during the peak of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terrorism from 2004-2007, and is a former White House National Security Council staffer, and former distinguished senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Washington, DC.

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