Middle East

Nusra Front captures five more US-trained rebels: activists

Nusra Front fighters rest with their weapons behind sandbags in the Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail NO ARCHIVE

BEIRUT: Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate captured at least five more U.S.-trained rebel fighters in overnight raids on a village in northwestern Syria, an activist group said Tuesday.

"Between Monday and Tuesday, The Nusra Front seized at least five rebels from Division 30 in the village of Qah, near the Turkish border," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The jihadis already captured at least eight rebels from the same U.S.-backed unit last week, the Observatory reported.

According to Abdel Rahman, late Monday, Nusra Front stormed a camp for internally displaced people in Qah, where the rebel fighters had taken refuge.

"Five fighters were seen captured but there may be more."

The Observatory chief said Nusra Front was "hunting down" U.S.-backed rebels in both Idlib province, where Qah is located, and neighboring Aleppo province.

A 54-strong rebel unit, trained and equipped by the Pentagon, was inserted into Aleppo province in mid-July as part of U.S. plans to forge a moderate force for the campaign against ISIS.

But despite Nusra Front's fierce hostility to the rival jihadis of ISIS, the unit soon came under attack by the Al-Qaeda loyalists.

They seized eight of its men in Aleppo province Wednesday, the Observatory said, in a report that drew a denial from the Pentagon.

On Friday, they launched an assault on Division 30's headquarters in the province that was only repulsed with the help of U.S. airstrikes and at the cost of at least five dead.





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