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US lost track of $715m in weapons sent to anti-Daesh allies in Syria 

US forces and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrol the Kurdish-held town of Al-Darbasiyah in northeastern Syria bordering Turkey on November 4, 2018 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images]
US forces and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) patrol the Kurdish-held town of Al-Darbasiyah in northeastern Syria bordering Turkey on 4 November 2018 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images]

The US government has failed to account for nearly $715.8 million in weapons and equipment funnelled to its Syrian allies involved in the multinational counter-offensive against Daesh, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Department of Defence.

Officials with the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operations Inherent Resolve (SOJTF-OIR), which is part of the Combined Joint Task Force (the US military’s mission in Syria) reportedly “did not maintain comprehensive lists of all equipment purchased and received” to supply its allies fighting against Daesh, known as CTEF-S equipment in the fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

In addition to failures in accounting for the weapons purchased and received, they were also not stored properly, causing many to rust or become vulnerable to theft. “This occurred because SOJTF-OIR personnel did not divest or dispose of CTEF-S equipment, which led to overcrowding at the BPC Kuwait warehouse”.

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The report however did not indicate whether weapons intended for vetted partners may have found their ways into the wrong hands. According to the Military Times, some of the equipment has ended up in the hands of Daesh and Al-Qaeda affiliates due to “battlefield losses by partner forces and as a result of Islamic State [Daesh] fighters plundering the armories of U.S.-backed groups in early 2014 as the jihadi group surged across Iraq and Syria”.

The Pentagon’s Syrian Train and Equip Program which reportedly cost $500 million was the public-facing part of a two-pronged effort in arming opposition groups in a bid to overthrow the Syrian government and to push back Daesh. According to an updated Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, the program has seen more than $2.3 billion allocated towards it between fiscal years 2015 and 2021.

Meanwhile, the CIA’s own operation in arming Syrian opposition, Timber Sycamore, which included Saudi involvement has resulted in terrorist groups armed by both parties fighting one another in Syria. Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliate, was one such group benefitting from the CIA operation.

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