Militants trained by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to fight against the Syrian government are now under Russian missile strikes with little prospect of rescue by their American supporters, according to US officials.Russia has directed parts of its military campaign against US-backed terrorists and other extremist groups in an effort to weaken them, The Associated Press reported on Saturday, citing unnamed US officials.
The Obama administration has few options to defend those it had secretly trained and armed, the officials say.US Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas who serves on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told The Associated Press the Russians “know their targets, and they have a sophisticated capacity to understand the battlefield situation.”
The CIA began its covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train terrorists to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.The covert CIA program has floundered for years, so much so that some lawmakers in Congress proposed cutting its budget.Some CIA-trained terrorists have been captured; others have defected to other extremist groups, such al-Nusra Front.
“Probably 60 to 80 percent of the arms that America shoveled in have gone to al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.
Since 2013, the CIA has trained approximately 10,000 terrorists. The effort was separate from a failed US military program to train “moderate” militants to supposedly fight the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
That $500 million Pentagon program is widely considered a failure, and on Friday, the US Defense Department announced it was abandoning those efforts and instead opting to arm existing groups to fight Daesh.
The US Defense Department had spent $42 million (out of $500 million set aside for the training program) to vet, arm and pay dozens of militants. The original goal of the program was to train 5,400 in the first year.These men CIA “assets” just got abandoned by their paymasters (the American government).