President Obama’s plan to arm the rebels in Syria backfired spectacularly. Weapons intended to destroy terrorist forces are now being sold on the black market. CNN investigators found an M16 etched with U.S. serial marks for sale in Syria.
Most of the weapons that the Obama administration flooded the area with have fallen into extremist hands. The U.S. has spent six long years fighting in Syria and has almost nothing to show for its efforts.
The military wasted $41 million in an effort to train moderate rebels to successfully combat terrorists. The proto-soldiers were given advanced weapons and little training before being pushed into battle.
The vendor who tried to sell CNN an M16 told the network that the weapon came from the failed “Division 30” unit.
“What this weapon does show [is] that this was made in the USA, and it does show that its serial number is very close to another weapon that was recovered from ISIS forces in northern Syria, who presumably stole it from Iraqi security forces earlier,” Damien Spleeters, from the Conflict Armament Research group, told CNN.
“It doesn’t mean the exact same thing happened with this weapon, just that it probably shares the same or a similar American source.”
CNN’s team contacted the arms dealer through Telegram, an encrypted messaging app.
According to CNN’s researchers: “The M16 was produced by a South Carolina company called FN Manufacturing. It carries a serial number that small arms experts say matches a batch originally thought to have been given to Iraqi security forces by a US assistance program, but that was found in possession of ISIS in 2014.”
Americans will be living with the consequences of Obama’s mistakes for a long time. His ambitious arms program in the Middle East has led to valuable weapons falling into the hands of extremists. U.S.-backed forces now have to grapple against the same weapons that were to meant to liberate them.
CNN’s team explored an area under the control of a group affiliated with al Qaeda. The small town is studded with high-tech weaponry. Machine guns, grenade launchers, body armor, etc are all for sale.
Division 30 was embedded in the New Syrian Army, an Obama creation that was meant to fight ISIS. The troops were poorly trained, however, and quickly came apart under pressure. A group of marauding extremists intercepted them and stole most of their weapons during one of their first missions.
A damning study released by a think tank shows that the majority of U.S. weapons given to the rebels are now in the hands of ISIS followers. In one example the Conflict Armament Research organization found that anti-tank weapons purchased by U.S. taxpayers fell into the hands of extremists within weeks of leaving the factory.
The report noted that Obama’s plan to arm rebel groups has “significantly augmented the quantity and quality of weapons available to (Islamic State) forces.” Researchers found nearly 40,000 American-made weapons in Syria over a three-year span.
Did the militants steal their arms or did the rebels betray their U.S. benefactors and sell the goods? Investigators aren’t sure. It’s probable that ISIS has multiple weapons sources. Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, also tried to arm rebel groups in the area.
Introducing sophisticated weapons into a volatile situation is politically risky. As the Obama administration learned, weapons are nearly impossible to track once they enter the hands of the rebels.
“We didn’t have a lot of choices at the time,” said Andrew Tabler, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“It was the best way to manage the situation.”
Obama’s “secret” program is different from the Pentagon’s publicly acknowledged mission to help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stand up to Syrian President Bashir al Assad. That program continues to this day.
USA Today notes: “The report did not find any evidence of SDF weapons falling into ISIS’ hands, as was the case with anti-Assad rebels. The Pentagon has said it carefully tracks weapons it provides to the Syrian Democratic Forces.”
President Trump is eager to wind down U.S. involvement in Syria. Problems still exist in the area, but the previous American strategy isn’t working. Obama favored covert, tricky plans while President Trump is choosing a more aggressive approach. The current administration isn’t trying to spread Democracy; President Trump just wants to defeat terrorists.