A U.S.-backed militia in Syria, touted by the Obama administration as a trusted "moderate" group and armed with American anti-tank missiles, is reportedly dissolving following a series of defeats by al-Qaeda aligned Jabhat al-Nusra—leaving the U.S.-led war on ISIS in further disarray.
The combatant group, Harakat al-Hazm, had been engaged in fierce clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra for months. The U.S.-allied militia was initially pushed from its northern Syrian headquarters in Idlib and suffered another defeat on Sunday at its new center of operations in Aleppo.
"Given what is happening on the Syrian front, offenses by the criminal regime with its cronies against Syria as a whole, and Aleppo specifically, and in an effort to stem the bloodshed of the fighters, the Hazm movement announces its dissolution," declared a statement from the group, cited by Daily Beast writer Jamie Dettmer.
The militia announced that its members would join a new coalition—the Shamiah Front—which is engaged in fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and, according to Dettmer, is "distrusted by Washington." According to the Guardian's Middle East Editor Ian Black, the front includes "hardline Salafist factions as well as more moderate brigades like the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Mujahideen Army and another U.S.-backed outfit."
Harakat al-Hazm is one of many Syrian militias that have received U.S. training and support, including shipments of anti-tank Tow missiles. Unverified reports are emerging on Twitter that their Tow missiles have been seized by al-Nusra fighters:
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The announcement of Harakat al-Hazm's collapse coincides with the launch of a new U.S.-led program to train and arm Syrian combatants in Turkey. U.S. support for "moderate" fighters has been a centerpiece of war on ISIS, nearing its seventh month.
However, this support dates back further than the war on ISIS. As Adam Johnson reported in FAIR last week, "That the US is arming and training Syrian rebels has been well-documented for over two years, yet Western media have historically suffered from a strange collective amnesia when reporting this fact."