WASHINGTON —In response to reports last week that Syrian rebels trained by the United States gave equipment to the al Qaeda affiliate, al Nusra Front, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on the Obama Administration to suspend the U.S. train and equip program to prepare local partners to fight ISIL. Murphy is the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism.
"Last week's revelation that U.S. equipment provided to American-trained Syrian rebel fighters is now in the hands of al Qaeda is just the latest indictment of a program that was destined to fail at the start. I understand the urgency that the Administration feels to take the fight to ISIL in Syria, and having personally met with the team implementing this program during my trip to the Middle East earlier this month, I am grateful for the work that has been put into trying to make this program successful.
“But for those of us who opposed the Syria train and equip program from the start, our predictions that our assistance would end up aiding mortal enemies of the U.S. like al Qaeda are now coming true. In the wake of this disturbing news, I believe the United States should suspend the program's operation to ensure that it does not simply become a means of supplying extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra with American weapons and equipment.
“Empowering al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria would be a disastrous side effect of the Syrian train and equip program. The only thing worse than Bashar al-Assad staying in power is for him to be replaced by an al Qaeda backed regime. This news is confirmation that U.S. policy may unwittingly be furthering this catastrophic endgame.”