Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | War on Terrorism | moderate | Syrian | factions | military

Daily Beast: Obama Cuts Off Aid to Some Syrian Rebels, Creates Confusion

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 07:44 PM

Even as President Obama touted the importance of aid to the Syrian opposition in his State of the Union address, the CIA has cut off or sharply reduced U.S. assistance to the rebels, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.

As a result, the opposition now operates under "a pall of confusion," according to the website, with groups saying they had not been informed that the aid was being cut off.
While Washington talks about aiding the Syrian "opposition," people familiar with the assistance program say there is widespread confusion over the question of "opposition to whom?"

When the Syrian civil war broke out nearly four years ago, the answer was pretty clear: it meant opposition to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, whose family has run the country for more than 40 years and is a top ally of Iran and the Hezbollah terror group.

But since then other groups like ISIS, which dominates large swathes of Iraq and Syria, and  the al-Nusra Front,  Syria's main al-Qaida-affiliated group, have emerged. Even more complications emerge when various factions or moderate groups like the Free Syrian Army (or factions within), align themselves with jihadist groups during particular battles.

In reality, the deterioration of the security situation in Syria over the past four years has resulted in a proliferation of armed factions and alliances, making it difficult or impossible to come up with hard and fast rules for providing aid.

The result has been growing confusion and worsening morale, as Washington struggles to find ways to funnel aid to "moderate" groups and to make certain that U.S. assistance isn't squandered on factions with little realistic chance of success.

In late October, for example, the al-Nusra Front routed U.S.-backed militias in Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

As a direct result of their weak military performance, "four of the 16 U.S.-approved brigades operating in the northern part of the country had their funding cut off and have been dropped from the list of 'ratified' militias," the Daily Beast reported.

Since December, the remaining 12 brigades in the region have been facing cuts in promised American assistance.

And in some cases, the military supplies that are getting through are barely enough to survive on.

One of the United States’ favored commanders got the equivalent of just 16 bullets per fighter, forcing his group to ration ammunition, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

While the CIA has trained about 5,000 fighters in Syria, many of those have defected to other factions or simply disappeared. And U.S. officials have expressed concern about some Washington-backed military brigades becoming "too close" to al-Qaida-linked factions.

Syrian rebel sources told the Daily Beast that a group called the 7th Division, which is aligned with the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army, has not received salaries from the CIA in months.

The secular Harakat al-Hazm, another U.S.-backed militia,"has seen a severe cutback" in the monthly subsidy for its nearly 4,000 fighters.

The group is reportedly getting about half of the salaries it previously received, and commanders are worried about whether future weapons shipments will come through.
Senators who emerged from a classified briefing last week on U.S. aid to Syrian opposition groups did not sound reassured about the direction of the Obama Administration's assistance program to Syrian opposition forces.

"I think we have a lot to do, and a lot of questions to answer," said New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham warned that the U.S-backed groups could be "subject to slaughter" by multiple enemies."If the first recruits you train get wiped out, it's going to be hard to recruit," Graham added.

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Even as President Obama touted the importance of aid to the Syrian opposition in his State of the Union address, the CIA has cut off or sharply reduced U.S. assistance to the rebels, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday. As a result, the opposition now operates under a pall...
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2015-44-27
Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 07:44 PM
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