• Commander Of US-Trained, Anti-ISIS Force Reportedly Captured

    Al-Qaida affiliated militants kidnapped the commander of the U.S.-trained, Syrian rebel group intended to fight Islamic State Wednesday.

    Jabhat al-Nusra militants allegedly abducted Nadeem Hassan and seven fighters while they were returning from a meeting near Turkey to plan an attack against Islamic State, The New York Times reports.

    But the Pentagon seemed to refute this claim in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation, saying, “We’ve seen the press reports, but have no information to provide. While we will not disclose the names of specific groups involved with the Syria Train and Equip program, I can confirm that there have been no New Syrian Force personnel captured or detained.”

    Yet Hassan’s contingent of 54 fighters, known as Division 30, released a statement Thursday claiming Nusra militants kidnapped rebels in the vicinity of Aleppo, in northern Syria.

    Shortly before the kidnapping, Hassan expressed concerns about the force’s capabilities in an interview with the NYT. Hassan said some fighters threatened to quit because he wasn’t able to pay them properly, and that U.S. officials still hadn’t provided his men with night-vision goggles.

    Division 30 fighters entered Syria approximately two weeks ago after completing training in Turkey, according to The Telegraph. The Pentagon’s $500 million program is designed to target Islamic State, avoiding conflict with other actors in the conflict, including the Syrian regime.

    The Pentagon originally planned to train 5,000 fighters per year, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter revealed only 60 “moderate” rebels have undergone training since the program began in May. Carter blamed the slow roll-out on a strict vetting process, ensuring rebels don’t have allegiances to radical groups.

    The Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, after Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a violent crackdown on peaceful protests. Now, the regime is fighting multiple rebel groups in addition to Islamic State.

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