Around 70 new graduates of the U.S. training program that produces trained rebels to fight the Islamic State in Syria handed over their weapons and equipment to the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage.
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The report comes from the Telegraph. The paper claims a number of sources reported that the fighters associated with Divison 30, the division of "moderate rebels," had surrendered and handed over weapons and equipment to Al-Nusra Front. A Twitter boast of the surrender came from Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, who claimed to be from the Nusra Front:Another purported Al-Nusra member, Abu al-Maqdisi, claimed the Division 30 commander, Anas Ibrahim Obaid, said he had tricked the coalition because he needed weapons. Al-Maqdisi tweeted:Several sources put the number of U.S.-trained fighters entering Syria as 75, including the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Middle East Eye also reported on the incident. CENTCOM issued a statement saying that about 70 graduates of the Syria Train and Equip program had re-entered Syria with their weapons and equipment and were operating as New Syrian Forces(NSF) alongside other rebels fighting the Islamic State.An earlier group of U.S.-trained fighters had been attacked by Al-Nusra and their base over-run. Their commander was kidnapped. Recently the head of CENTCOM, General Lloyd Austin III, claimed that there were only four or five U.S.-trained fighters left in Syria.
"A strong slap for America... the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage. They handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups."
"He promised to issue a statement... repudiating Division 30, the coalition, and those who trained him. And he also gave a large amount of weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra."