Skip to comments.Syrian Rebels Describe U.S.-Backed Training in Qatar
Posted on 05/27/2014 8:16:43 PM PDT by Mount Athos
With reports indicating that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are gaining ground in that countrys brutal civil war, moderate Syrian rebels have told a visiting journalist that the United States is arranging their training in Qatar.
In a documentary to be aired Tuesday night, 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, including, one rebel said, how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.
The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels. In recent months, at least five rebel units have posted videos showing their members firing U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles at Syrian positions. The weapons are believed to have come from Saudi Arabia, but experts on international arms transfers have told McClatchy that they could not have been given to the rebels without the approval of the Obama administration.
The documentary, produced by FRONTLINE for airing on PBS stations, features journalist Muhammad Ali, who has been following the Syrian civil war for the program. It shows Ali meeting up with a seemingly moderate faction of the rebels, though the faction itself is not identified apparently for fear of angering its American contacts.
Ali is shown riding with a rebel supply officer as he traveled to the Turkish border to reportedly pick up American-supplied Russian weapons and ammunition, but he is not allowed to accompany the fighters to the actual meeting. When the rebels return to pick him up, they display bullets and a mortar, which are shown in the film, and tell him they have received TOW missiles; the missiles are not shown, however.
The commander of the unit also told Ali that their American contacts had asked him to bring 80 to 90 members of his unit to Ankara for training. Once in Ankara, after a 14-hour drive from Syria, they were interrogated for days about their political leanings and their units fighting history. The commander told Ali that their questioners identified themselves as belonging to the military, but that he believed they were from the CIA.
On the final day, they were told that they would be flown the next day to a training camp in Qatar, a monarchy in the Persian Gulf. Then they were transported to a training facility they believed was near the border with Saudi Arabia.
One of the fighters said they received three weeks of training in how to conduct ambushes, conduct raids and use their weapons. They also said they received new uniforms and boots.
They trained us to ambush regime or enemy vehicles and cut off the road, said the fighter, who is identified only as Hussein. 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.
But whether such aid from the United States helps bring the peace in the form of negotiation or extend the war by giving the rebels false hope remains unclear.
Indeed, the fighters told Ali that they cannot win without anti-aircraft missiles against Assad superior air war, which they have yet to receive.
When I saw there was no training in anti-aircraft missiles, my morale was destroyed, one fighter told Ali.
For the United States, its new effort means treading slowly into murky waters. In the last few months, the United States has signaled it is increasingly interested in finding an ally that can force Assad to the negotiation table and curtail the burgeoning al Qaida threat coming from extremist groups fighting Assad.
The United States has refused to confirm its growing efforts to help the fighters. Neither the Pentagon nor the CIA would comment on Frontlines findings.
For the United States, publicly embracing such an effort presents many challenges, chief among them widespread opposition among U.S. voters for more direct U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict. When the United States was considering a military strike on Syria last summer after a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, polling showed overwhelming opposition to U.S. military intervention.
Moreover, many both inside and out of government fear U.S.-provided weapons could make their way into extremist hands, particularly in a place like Syria, where alliances and foes change with breakneck fluidity. Moderate rebel groups have worked closely with the al Qaida-aligned Nusra Front and the Islamic Front, one of whose factions, Ahrar al Sham, includes al Qaida members among its founders.
Perhaps because of those reasons, Congress has never publicly signed off on funding for a training and arming effort, and officially, the United States only provides non-lethal aid, like food rations, clothing and first aid supplies.
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They aren’t exactly the Montagnards are they? I remember learning something about the CIA training and arming this Saudi, last name was Bin, something. Oh well, probably not important.
There will be green on blue incidents with these people.
Uh, aren't you supposed to eat their hearts, and upload a vid of said meal to youtube?
THIS IS TREASON. glad i’m no longer in the military and be put in a position to train enemies of my country.
It is TREASON to do anything for the AL QAEDA or its affiliates punishable by trial , sentence and execution.
Time mag had ONE shot of a contra finishing off some scumbag and EVERY lefty in the world screamed “DEATH SQUAD”.
Over and over and over —they wouldn’t shut up. They had a field day.
Black guy does it 100 times? Nooooo problem. No questions about it.
Watch the way the lefties ignore this, just watch.
So basically, you're saying we're funding and operating terrorist training camps for alkida.
You know what I remember from about 3 years ago...?
That about 50,000 M-16’s and heavier weapons got stolen in Qatar.
They really shut down that story, but it was true.
I have a bad feeling about it.
Ever notice how this Regime just CANNOT somehow keep hold of the weapons it totes around the globe..?
They’re Death, Incorporated.
We’re training Al Qaeda!
We’re not training Al Qaeda but...
We are training people who are cooperating in combat with Al Qaeda (Al Nusra). So how moderate will they be after fighting alongside Al Qaeda in several battles? If they ever were moderate to begin with.
FSA + Nusra have fought together several times lately, including an attack on a Christian monastery.
And they are fighting together right now against ISIS.
I can definitely understand wanting to stop ISIS, but this way is crazy and short sighted
An Al Qaeda franchise. Same thing.
We’re arming Al Qaeda too.
Obama is pro-MB..no question about it.
The retribution will be truly monumental when the US is finally sufficiently weakened that all the nations, large and small, that the US has meddled with can finally strike back. That may still be a lengthy time.
America is a wonderful place of the mind, the heart, the conscience. It is freedom and liberty and generousity. It is a place that was, and a place that might be again. It is a place worth fighting for. Some day. The fight hasn’t really yet begun.
The United States, however, is a different story. The United States has become an oppressive, suffocating, murderous rogue nation, unaccountable for the time ... but not unaccountable forever.
For a long time, at least for five years, we have chosen the wrong side in all the little geopolitical brush fires that have erupted. Some big ones, too. Well, I don’t really “we.” As Bush might have said, “the choosers” have chosen the wrong side. Almost 300,000,000 of us are just along for the ride on this one. We will feel the payback, though, when the payback starts.
As described here, America is “we the people.” The United States is the government currently in power.
Active duty ping.
Oh, come on.
Obama prides himself on his perfect, unbroken record in taking the WRONG side in every, single Moslem rebellion throughout the entire span of his administration.
moderate Syrian rebels have
What in the wide wide world of sports is a moderate rebel??
Only fights on weekends? Uses rubber bullets? Announces planned attacks??
We have been doing that (specifically) for the last few years under Obama.
Last year, when Obama ordered the furloughs of thousands of DoD employees (because we "didn't have the money to pay the salaries") of DoD mechanics, nurses (including those at Walter Reed), DoD teachers, and engineers - he siphoned off Billions from the Sequestered DoD budget to give to the Muslim Brotherhoods, Syrian "rebels", and funneling weapons to Al Qaeda through Turkey.
No question the US training of Syrian rebels will cost American lives - the only question is how many?
All combatants in Syria, both sides, are fiercely anti-American.