Washington D.C, (TFC)— US officials recently tipped journalists off to a new Pentagon-sponsored Syrian rebel training program. Modeled after an earlier failed project, this new program plans to train dozens of fighters to push back against ISIS. It’s activation comes as US clandestine operations escalate, troop numbers grow, and the surrounding fighting intensifies beyond proportion.
Dozens of fighters are expected to see training in the Pentagon’s new program, but the government is apparently cautious. An earlier project, the CIA-sponsored Division 30, failed to produce an effective fighting force against ISIS or Assad’s regime. It’s fighters not only were assaulted early on, but eventually handed weapons and ammo to al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front. After mainstream media finally picked up the story months after it was already dark, Division 30 was compared to the failed Bay Of Pigs Invasion.
Claiming to have learned from CIA’s program, US Special Forces holds its project to different procedures. Instead of pulling whole units from the front, as with Division 30, Raw Story reports, the new program only takes small groups. Additionally, “trainees” will learn how to call in coalition airstrikes, something once reserved for western forces.
“If it works we’ll do more”, says US Army Colonel Steve Warren. “And if it doesn’t”, he continues, “we’ll shift again.” Warren, according to Raw Story, insists training fighters allows more force in “any of these skirmishes, battles, and firefights that are taking place throughout Syria.”
Simultaneously, US officials discuss sending yet more special forces in-country as fighting intensifies and groups erode away. As of yet, Express Times reports, around 50 troops are known to be active in Syria. This, of course, does not include clandestine contractors, intelligence agencies, and shadier units such as JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command).
When asked what troops would do an anonymous official said, “presumably they would do more of what they’re already doing.” “No new capabilities”, the official claimed, “but an increase of the current capabilities.” How many troops are involved in the surge is unknown but, Express Times reports, they will be met with Russian special forces supporting Assad on the ground.
Pentagon and CIA paramilitary operations haven’t always melded well, as recent revelations prove. Rebel groups, some backed by Pentagon forces and others by CIA, have begun to clash with one another along the Turkish border.
None of this shines confidence on the new re-activated program or its eventual outcome. Around the time Division 30 was initially launched, special forces and intelligence operatives literally competed over recruits for separate projects. Perhaps these clashes are the result of separate programs, launched under differing circumstances, for separate purposes.
Despite how much the US attempts to downplay the role of its “advisors” in Syria, clandestine kill-capture raids have only increased. The first ever acknowledged special forces raid in Syria killed one Abu Sayyaf, an apparent IS oil minister, and captured his wife um Sayyaf, reputedly a slaver.
According to numerous sources, including the Huffington Post, Assad’s regime was not informed the raid would or had occurred. Instead, US forces apparently attained permission from Iraqi officials, who’d struggled holding back IS for months. Many outlets reported a dramatic account of special forces fighting jihadists in hand-to-hand combat in some cases, killing 12 including the target.
According to the Huffington Post, Syrian State TV initially credited Assad with the raid, claiming 20 fighters were killed, 12 of which were “non-Syrian”. Following the raid Um Sayyaf, Abu Sayyaf’s reputed wife, was taken into custody and then interrogated by Iraqi officials pertaining to her role. Um was also reputedly questioned regarding several computers and other devices seized by operatives during the raid.
Many questions continue to linger over the Abu Sayyaf raid, specifically pertaining to who exactly he was and why he had to die. Firstly, “Abu Sayyaf” is Arabic for “father of the swordsman”, and was by no means that man’s name. This brings his wife’s name into question as well, further deepening the mystery of what happened to her upon entering American, and then Iraqi, custody.
Several humanitarian groups spoke up for Sayyaf’s rights, many demanding she be released or charged with a crime. Others expressed concern over her detainment by Iraqi security forces, known for human rights abuses against prisoners, especially women.
Shortly after the raid an analysis firm, the Soufan Group, came out suggesting Abu Sayyaf was the same individual as a wanted Tunisian terrorist. According to the Daily Caller, Tariq al-Harzi was wanted under the Department Of Justice’s “Rewards For Justice” program for $3 Million. DOJ describes al-Harzi as one of the Islamic States’ original members. Similar to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Harzi reputedly spent time in Abu Ghraib prison, as well as other US-controlled facilities, before escaping in 2004. Although the Department Of Defense didn’t confirm Soufan’s analysis, they did admit they believe Sayyaf was Tunisian. The Soufan Group, Daily Caller reports, was founded by a former FBI counter-terrorism investigator, and represents the outsourcing of clandestine military action to the private sector.
More recently, America claims it struck another name off the kill list: reputed ISIS beta wolf Haji Imam. If that strikes you as another fake name, you’re not at all mistaken. According to news.com.au, the former financial ministers real name was Abd ar-rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli. Just as Abu Sayyaf, al-Qaduli dates back to Iraq’s early days of jihad which sprang to power as a result of the 2003 invasion and occupation. Going off official accounts, the man joins several other IS hierarchs which have been reported KIA in recent months.