Pentagon Says Reports About Syrian Defections False
By DoD News
By Lisa Ferdinando
The US Defense Department says there are false reports coming out of Syria about defections among personnel in the Syrian train-and-equip program.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the false reports have been sourced to Twitter from people claiming to be from the al-Nusra front and saying train-and-equip personnel have turned over weapons or defected.
“I just wanted to tell you that we believe those reports to be false. We have no information at all to suggest that’s true,” Davis said in a press briefing today. “All coalition-issued weapons and equipment are under the positive control of New Syrian Force fighters.”
The United States is in contact with the personnel and there is “no indication that there is any truth to the claim that there has been a defection,” he said.
Some of the photos in the social media postings, “appear to have been repurposed,” Davis said.
In a statement, U.S. Central Command said there are indications the al-Nusra front is “actively” trying to discredit the train-and-equip program and the New Syrian forces by spreading false information via social media.
The coalition program trains and equips Syrian opposition members in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
According to Centcom, approximately 70 graduates of the program returned to Syria over the weekend and are currently operating there as New Syrian Forces.
“While the NSF do not operate under the command and control of the coalition,” the statement said, “we will continue to support and enable these anti-ISIL forces as part of the campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.”