US-trained rebels will not combat Nusra Front

State Dept. says fighters will not engage rebels but US would ‘protect them’ if attacked by Nusra

US-trained rebels will not combat Nusra Front

World Bulletin / News Desk

U.S.-trained forces that entered Syria late last month will not combat fighters from al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, the State Department said Wednesday.

Asked by reporters if the New Syrian Forces would fight only ISIL, spokesman Mark Toner said they would, and ruled active combat against the Nusra Front.

But he emphasized that the U.S. would “take steps to protect them” if they came under attack from Nusra’s fighters.

“Our stance on al-Nusra is very well known and, you know, we're going to continue to protect these forces [….] as they bring the fight to ISIL in northern Syria,” he said. “So we've been providing them with, as I said, defensive strikes to help protect them where we can.”

A total of 54 Syrian opposition fighters went into the country earlier this month after they completed their training at the beginning of July. 

The U.S. said Wednesday that it had indications that some the rebels have been captured by al-Nusra.

Toner said the U.S. continues to seek a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 211,000 victims and displaced millions. 

He said Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, had a "substantive conversation" Wednesday in which they discussed the importance of "finding a political solution" to the crisis, and the Bashar al-Assad regime's "potential use of chemical weapons".

Asked if it would be positive for Russia to join the fight against ISIL given the country's military capabilities, the spokesman said the U.S. is "very much engaged" with Russia on these issues and the "possible way forward."

Toner said  the U.S. continues to seek a political resolution in Syria consistent with the Geneva Communique, but without Assad. 

"We're clear that even though we want to see a political resolution consistent with the Geneva Communique, we don't see Assad as part of that," he said. "We're trying to work through some of these issues with Russia."

The train-and-equip program, jointly organized by the U.S. and coalition partners is intended to help prepare Syrian opposition fighters in the campaign against ISIL.

The U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement on February 17 that allowed up to 1,000 U.S. troops to participate in the training in Turkey.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ağustos 2015, 09:08
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