News ID: 127642
Published: 0655 GMT September 26, 2015

US military: US-trained militants gave equipment to Nusra terrorists

US military: US-trained militants gave equipment to Nusra terrorists

So-called moderate militants trained by the United States gave some of their equipment to the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage, a US military spokesman said on Friday, the latest blow to a troubled US effort to train local partners to fight ISIL terrorists.

The militants surrendered six pick-up trucks and some ammunition, or about one-quarter of their issued equipment, to a suspected Nusra intermediary on Sept. 21-22 in exchange for safe passage, said Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for US Central Command, in a statement, Reuters reported.

US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East, was told of the equipment surrender around 1 p.m. on Friday, Ryder said. Earlier on Friday, Ryder had said all weapons and equipment issued to the militants remained under their control.

The news was the most recent sign of trouble in a fledgling military effort to train militants to take on the ISIL terrorist group in Syria, where a 4-1/2-year conflict has killed about 250,000 people and caused nearly half of Syria's prewar population of 23 million to flee.

A top US general told Congress last week that only a handful of the militants are still fighting in Syria, though US military officials said this week that dozens more have since joined them.

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