Khazal al-Sarhan - head of US-created "New Syrian Army"
The US military has again failed in one of the training programs it runs in support of fighting the Islamic State. Earlier training missions had failed to create competent and willing forces. Supplies for US supported forces ended on the black markets or directly in the hands of the Islamic State. Is all this really incapability or is there some intent behind this?
Yesterday the US created and supported New Syrian Army, a large gang of Salafists from Deir Ezzur, proudly announced that it was attacking the Islamic State at the Syrian-Iraqi border:
ISIS has gone on alert as US-backed rebels aim to advance toward the border town of Al-Boukamal in a bid to cut the jihadist group’s supply lines between Iraq and Syria.The attacked town is 250 desert kilometers away from the only other New Syrian Armyposition at the Tanf border crossing. The forces were dropped by helicopters and had US air support. These New Syrian Army fighters were trained In Jordan and newly equipped by US and British special forces and are said to be led by "foreign airborne fighters", likely Jordanian specialists.
On Tuesday, the New Syrian Army announced the start of its campaign to gain control of Al-Boukamal, which lies across from the Iraqi border town of Al-Qaim deep behind ISIS’s main frontlines in eastern Syria.
Hours after the start of the offensive, the shadowy group active in remote stretches of the eastern Syrian desert seized the defunct Al-Hamdan airbase five-kilometers northwest of Al-Boukamal while fighting also raged overnight southwest of the border town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Three coalition helicopters landed New Syrian Army troops approximately four-kilometers west of Al-Boukamal on Tuesday, according to the SOHR, as coalition airstrikes in the meantime targeted ISIS north of the town.Reuters reports that the US supported this attack in a way it usually ascribes to the Russians:
The New Syrian Army also claimed its forces were airdropped, saying their troops “landed behind enemy lines” after which they took the Al-Hamdan airport and nearby village, which are located northwest of Al-Boukamal.
According to a statement issued Wednesday morning by the group, its fighters also seized “the Al-Husaybah area and border crossing [outside the town] as well and the southern southern desert and the whole eastern regions in the vicinity of Abu Kamal.”
The US-backed force further claimed that “sleeper cells of rebel clans in the Al-Boukamal countryside facilitated the advance of our troops.”
US-led coalition jets fired missiles at the town's Aisha hospital used by Islamic State...We are waiting for Human Rights Watch's urgent condemnation of this outrageous war-crime ...
One assumes that such a large operation is well prepared with thought out fire-plans, good intelligence and extensive logistic support. Fresh, well trained troops with the best available equipment, and with surprise on their side, should have had no real trouble to prevail in such an attack.
But the whole operation failed terribly within just a few hours.
The Islamic State killed five "spies" in Al-Boukamal who were allegedly working for the New Syrian Army. It killed some 40 NSA troops during fighting and wounded some 15. It seized 6 brand new US supplied trucks with miniguns and another 6 trucks with ammunition as well as satellite telephones. The rest of the New Syrian Army retreated to the defunct airbase they had started at and are waiting for exfiltration.
If this was a mission to resupply the Islamic State it indeed had some success. Otherwise it was another very embarrassing failure, not only for the New Syrian Army but of the professional militaries that trained and supported it.
One wonders what the highly paid US military has been doing here. How can such an attack, with all advantages on the side of the US proxies, fail? Was this an intentional failure or sheer incompetence? Does the US military really want to fight the Islamic State? Or is this all just obfuscation?
Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.