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'U.S. troops at Al-Tanf base sold weapons to ISIS in Syria'

News Agencies | Updated on: 1 September 2017, 14:54 IST

A Syrian rebel has revealed that U.S.troops based at the Al-Tanf base in Syria's southeastern desert were not fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists and were selling weapons and ammunition to them to fight against the Bashar al-Assad forces.

Asaad As-Salem, who defected from the U.S.-backed Maghawir al-Thawra group stationed at the Al-Tanf base in the southern Syria, said U.S. is engaged in pursuing the main aim of expanding the ISIS influence in Syria by assisting them with U.S. made weapons.

Salem, who served as a chief security officer at the Al-Tanf base, said, he, along with a number of other militants defected from the U.S-backed Maghawir al-Thawra group in the southern Syria, and surrendered to the Syrian government forces.

U.S. special forces have been based since last year at at-Tanf which is one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq.

Salem said he and his men joined the U.S.-backed rebel group at the base with an intention to fight the Islamic State terrorists, but were never meant to fight the ISIS and rather the U.S. and Norwegian instructors trained the militants to fire the U.S.-made weapons, trained mortar squads and conducted courses on accident-free driving on the battlefield.

"When we learned that our unit's leader was selling weapons to the ISIS terrorists, we reported that to American base command, but following our report no action has been taken, the Americans only ramped up the support to the man, who was appointed our commander and who was dealing with the ISIS," As-Salem said, during an interview with the media channel.

"And he was selling all sorts of weapons our unit possessed, U.S.-made small arms, M-16 and M-4 rifles, recoilless rifles, various machine guns and ammunition for them," Salem added.

Russia's foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said that the information obtained by then rebel should be thoroughly examined by international organisations.

"Certainly, those materials need a thorough examination by competent organisations, including international organisations. These materials tell us that the American coalition, the so-called coalition, does not what was proclaimed, i.e. not fighting terrorists in the southern Syria, but pursues its own goals," Russia Today quoted Zakharova, as saying

"One of the goals is creation of their own sphere of influence in the country, exhausted in the fight against terrorism. In order to achieve that, according to witness reports, various means are being used, including direct transfer of foreign-made weapons to militants, as it happened at the At-Tanf base in the south of the country," she added. 


First published: 1 September 2017, 14:54 IST