Syrian rebels who had been trained and armed by the United States defected to the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria over the weekend and surrendered their weapons, according to various reports.
The moderate Syrian rebels who were stormed by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, were members of Harakat Hazzm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front.
“Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra group, affiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army, according to rebel commanders, activists and analysts,” reported The Washington Post.
The al-Qeada affiliate also overran bases operated by the Hazzm Movement, which according to The Telegraph, had been receiving heavy arms from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.
Those heavy weapons include GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.
The Telegraph reported that the Hazzm group surrendered “weapons supplies” to the al-Nusra Front.
“It was not immediately clear if American TOW missiles were among the stockpile surrendered to Jabhat al-Nusra on Saturday,” mentioned the British news outlet. “However several Jabhat al-Nusra members on Twitter announced triumphantly that they were.”
The al-Nusra Front victories dealt a blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to train and equip moderate Syrian forces to fight against ISIS.
On Nov. 3, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the U.S. efforts to build up a capable Syrian fighting force “is not a short-term proposition” and “is going to require a sustained effort and a sustained commitment.”
Earnest told reporters he could not confirm the al-Nusra advances over the moderate Syrian rebels.