Syrian rebel group ready to quit anti-ISIL fight: Report
AP PhotoA key Syrian rebel group in the international fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has reportedly threatened to quit the U.S.-led train and equip program for not being allowed to target the regime.
Mustapha Sejari, one of the rebels already approved for the U.S. training program, told the Daily Beast that he and his 1,000 men are on the verge of withdrawing from the program.
“The issue: the American government’s demand that the rebels can’t use any of their newfound battlefield prowess or U.S.-provided weaponry against the army of Bashar al-Assad or any of its manifold proxies and allies, which include Iranian-built militias such as Lebanese Hezbollah. They must only fight [ISIL], Washington insists,” the Daily Beast reported May 31.
“[My men] don’t want to be beholden to this policy because it can be used against them in Syria—that they’ve betrayed the revolution and now they’re just mercenaries for the coalition forces,” Sejari, a founding member of the Revolutionary Command Council, said.
The program has suffered unexplained delays as the U.S. has resisted Turkish calls for the force to be also prepared to fight the Syrian government, while the sides have also attempted to reach an agreement on whom to train.
The U.S. has also refused a Turkish proposal to enforce a safe area and a no-fly zone in Syria, prompting questions on how trained rebels would be protected when they enter Syria.
Turkey and the U.S. are still discussing technical aspects of possible air support for Syrian rebels trained in Turkey, according to latest reports.