US-backed Syrian rebels arrested by another group: Report
Opposition fighters in Syria have reportedly arrested a fresh group of US-trained rebel fighters shortly after they entered the country from Turkey, The Times in London said.
According to the reports, 75 US-trained fighters entered into Syria from Turkey over the weekend in the US’s latest attempt to construct a “moderate” opposition force within the country.
"Seventy-five new fighters trained in a camp near the Turkish capital entered Aleppo province between Friday night [18 September] and Saturday morning, [19 September]," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP on Sunday.
However, on Monday the Times reported that the US-trained fighters had been arrested by the Shamiya Front (also known as the Levant Front) a Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey-backed coalition of mostly Islamist rebel groups.
A statement release by the Shamiya Front said that the arrest of the fighters had been only temporary and said they had been confused as the fighters' carried the flag of the Syrian government.
“They were investigated and then released,” Captain Mohammad Ahmad said. “The Shamiya Front has no problem fighting alongside any group that wants to fight Isis. But 30th Division aren’t fighting Isis. Their war is just in the media.”
According to the SOHR, the rebels crossed through the Bab al-Salama border point, in a heavily armed convoy of 12 vehicles with US air cover.
Most joined the main US-backed Division 30 group, while some went to join Suqur al-Jabal, another grouping.
A previous attempt to train rebels by the US ended in disaster in July after a number of Division 30 fighters were killed or kidnapped by al-Nusra Front (the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate) who accused them of being spies.
Fighters from the Division 30 Brigade of 54 “moderate” US-trained rebels told McClatchy in late August that Turkish intelligence had informed al-Nusra Front of the brigade’s entrance into Syria, enabling al-Nusra to kidnap them.
“Only the Americans and the Turks knew” about the plans, said one Division 30 officer. “We have sources who tell us the Turks warned Nusra that they would be targeted by this group.”
Nusra regards the fighters of the US train-and-equip programme as traitors for allying with the US and focusing exclusively on the Islamic State (IS) rather than the government of Bashar al-Assad.