US does not know location of its trained Syrian fighters
‘Clearly there have been challenges. Some of those challenges, as you know, have come from Al-Nusra front,’ says Pentagon

The Pentagon said Thursday that it does not know the location of its recently-deployed New Syrian Forces.

Spokesman Capt. Mark Davis told reporters that the Syrian rebels do not "fall under our chain of command”, and as such the Pentagon is reliant upon groups it works with to know their status.

A total of 54 Syrian opposition fighters went into the country earlier this month after completing a training regimen at the beginning of July.

Shortly after the fighters were deployed they came under attack by al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, the Nusra Front. The U.S. carried out airstrikes in defense of the New Syrian Forces, but an unknown number were taken hostage by the extremists, and at least one was killed.

"Clearly there have been challenges. Some of those challenges, as you know, have come from al-Nusra Front,” said Davis. "But overall we remain committed to ensuring that we have a group there that we can train and equip, moderate Syrian opposition who can continue to fight against ISIL on the ground as part of a broader strategy to defeat ISIL across the region.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama has been briefed on the efforts to train and equip the Syrian fighters, and the Pentagon has been clear about the obstacles presented by the mission.

"The president certainly does have the expectation that the United States and our coalition partners learn from the significant challenges that we have encountered in trying to train, equip and empower the Syrian opposition fighters on the ground in Syria,” Earnest said.

"But it has not significantly encumbered the other aspects of our strategy that are yielding important results in northern Syria,” he added, referring to efforts to defend Kobani and the use of airstrikes to protect successive advances against Daesh along the northern Syria border.

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Last Modified: 2015-08-08 08:11:28
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