Pentagon supports claim of US-trained Syrian rebels abducted by Nusra

Published August 5th, 2015 - 09:00 GMT
The US Department of Defense said it has indications members of the train-and-equip program have been detained by al-Nusra Front. (AFP/File)
The US Department of Defense said it has indications members of the train-and-equip program have been detained by al-Nusra Front. (AFP/File)

The US Department of Defense has indications that members of the train-and-equip program for Syrian fighters have been detained by al-Nusra Front militant group in Syria, a Pentagon official said Tuesday. 

Since last week, reports from inside Syria have been claiming that al-Nusra has captured at least five fighters trained by the US and coalition forces.

"We have indications members of the New Syrian Forces have been detained by al-Nusra Front in Syria," US Defense Department Spokeswoman Elissa Smith told Anadolu Agency. 

"We are monitoring the situation but have no further details to provide," Smith added.

Local sources said that the Turkmen-dominated group of ‘train-and-equip’ fighters were held by al-Nusra on Wednesday night.

Sources told Anadolu Agency that the Free Syrian Army was trying to persuade al-Nusra to release the group.

The al-Nusra Front is on the US list of terrorist organizations due to its purported links to al-Qaeda.

The train-and-equip program has been jointly organized by the US and Turkey to help prepare Syrian opposition fighters in the campaign against Daesh and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

A total of 54 Syrian opposition fighters went into the country earlier this month after they completed their training at the beginning of July.

A US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against al-Nusra Front targets in Aleppo and Idlib since mid-September 2014.

The effort to train Syrian opposition groups is part of an overall campaign to defeat Daesh militants who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq since June last year.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey agreed to help opposition groups not only fight Daesh but also battle the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

The US and Turkey signed an agreement on February 17 that allowed up to 1,000 US troops to participate in the training.


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