As the Obama Administration continues to send out signals about assisting “moderate” insurgents with training — but continues to make no commitment, especially in provision of weapons — a telling passage from Syria Deeply’s interview with Mohammad Ali, a filmmaker who accompanied a group of fighters from Idlib Province after they were trained by US forces in Qatar:
They were happy before they went because they were expecting to get anti-aircraft training and weapons, which is their main concern. They were thinking that the Americans would give them weapons they said they needed to fight the regime.
I was one of the first to meet them after they came back. They said their trainers were American, although they told the guys they were from the Qatari Army. They were disappointed that the Americans hadn’t trained them how to use anti-aircraft weapons. They thought they were going to get training on those specific weapons, and would get ammunition, and they came back without any of it.
They were telling me, “We were expecting that [the officials] were going to deliver it to us, but they still say they need the approval of the [Obama] administration.” Basically that the administration [is the final decision maker] and that they shouldn’t ask about it anymore.
One of the things the fighters told me was that they asked the trainers in Qatar, “Can’t you at least train us how to use the anti-aircraft weapons [on our own?]” They told the fighters that the concern was that they would hit normal airplanes, like [aid] transportation planes. The guys told them that in two years there have been no flights to Syria. Eventually the officials said that if the administration does agree, they can send the guys back there for training for two days. Overall they were very disappointed by this point because it was their main aim.
They believed that (aid) was in the hands of Barack Obama and that other countries are just followers, obeying the orders. They understand the situation around them and they know each country has some benefit (from involvement in Syria). They said the Saudis and Qataris were using Syria to fight each other. At the end, they told me they didn’t think (Syria) was a big issue for Obama.
The fighters were telling me the Americans don’t understand how bad their situation is and that they are losing the battle, and that their aid doesn’t matter much because the regime is winning due to airpower. They told me they would not stop fighting the regime until the last man standing. They said that if moderate fighters like them left, ISIS and the extremists would control the rebel areas. So they understand that it’s important not just to defeat Assad but to stop the extremists.