Abu Khattab al-Maqdisi, who also purports to
be a Jabhat al-Nusra member, added that Division 30's commander,
Anas Ibrahim Obaid,had explained to Jabhat al-Nusra's leaders
that he had tricked the coalition because he needed weapons.
"He promised to issue a statement...
repudiating Division 30, the coalition, and those who trained
him," he tweeted. "And he also gave a large amount of weapons to
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR),
a monitoring group, reported that seventy-five Division 30
fighters had crossed into Syria from Turkey early the day before
with “12 four-wheel vehicles equipped with machine guns and
US Central Command confirmed about 70
graduates of the Syria “train and equip” programme had
re-entered Syria with their weapons and equipment and were
operating as New Syrian Forces alongside Syrian Kurds, Sunni
Arab and other anti-Isil forces.
The latest disaster, if true, will be the
second to befall the programme. Last month, after the first
group of fighters re-entered, the militia was attacked and
routed by Jabhat al-Nusra, which
stormed its headquarters and kidnapped a number of its members.
At the weekend, the group’s chief of staff
also resigned, saying the training programme was “not serious”.
In the statement, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad
al-Dhaher complained of insufficient numbers of trainees and
fighters, inadequate supplies, and even “a lack of accuracy and
method in the selection of Division 30’s cadres”.
The latest developments have only added to the
scorn heaped on the much-criticized $500 million (£320m)
program, which aimed to forge a 5,400-strong force of “moderate”
rebels to combat Isil.
It has been hampered by problems almost from
the outset, with rebels complaining of a laborious vetting
process. The biggest point of contention is that they are only
allowed to fight Isil, not the
Assad regime, which is the principal enemy for most
Last Wednesday, General Lloyd Austin, head of
US Central Command, shocked leaders in the US Senate's armed
services committee when he said there were only handful of
programme graduates still fighting inside Syria. "We're talking
four or five," he said.