NEW YORK: CIA operations to aid moderate fighters battling Syria’s Bashar Al Assad regime has gone badly as rebel forces keep shifting loyalties, says a Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper says “entire CIA-backed rebel units, including fighters who went through the training programme, have changed sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades, quit the fight or gone missing”.

But US officials defend the decision to keep the arms pipeline small and tightly controlled, citing concerns that weapons could fall into the wrong hands. Despite the controls, some weapons still landed on the wrong side, they said.

Pentagon officials are establishing a new programme in Syria to build a rebel force to fight Islamic State, not the Assad regime, which will make it tougher for the Pentagon to attract rebel commanders to the programme, some US officials say.

Much of the US focus is shifting to southern Syria, where rebels seem more unified but say they get just 5pc to 20pc of the arms requested from the CIA, the newspaper said.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2015

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