PBS is set to air a documentary Tuesday describing the US-backed training and arming of Syrian opposition forces. The purpose of US involvement in the region, while not clearly and overtly stated by the Obama administration, is seemingly to counter the Assad regime in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
According to PBS’s Frontline, the documentary will showcase the following:
The rebels describe their clandestine journey from the Syrian battlefield to meet with their American handlers in Turkey and then travel on to Qatar, where they say they received training in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques.
PBS said the interviews they conducted provide proof that the United States has been providing aid to the Syrian opposition forces for the past three years. Not only that, but recently the US has expanded the initiative significantly.
PBS journalist Muhammad Ali is seen in the documentary meeting up with a group of “moderate” Syrian rebels. They then proceed to Syria’s border with Turkey to pick up Russian weapons supplied by the United States. The fighters are seen in the video displaying cartridges and a mortar from their supply run. They also tell Ali that they were in receipt of TOW (anti-tank) missiles.
The commander of the rebels told PBS that American officials requested he and his units drive to Ankara, Turkey, for training. The rebel commander assumed his directions had come from CIA officials, although he had no way to verify the information as fact.
Once they were done training in Turkey, the rebels would be flown off to Qatar, an oil-rich state run by an Arab monarchy. From Qatar, the rebels were sent to another training camp. The commander guessed the 3rd camp was somewhere near Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia.
PBS interviewed a rebel fighter who said he had received advanced warfare training on how to properly conduct raids and ambushes on enemy forces. He also claimed the US trainers gave him advanced weapons training. The man, identified as “Hussein,” said, “They also trained us on how to attack a vehicle, raid it, retrieve information or weapons and munitions, and how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”
PBS reached out to the United States government along with the Central Intelligence Agency for comment on their findings. Neither the Obama administration nor the CIA would confirm PBS Frontline’s findings.