Nusra Front posts video of ‘capture’ of U.S.-trained rebels
The Pentagon has denied that any graduates of its training program for moderate rebels had been captured in Syria
Al-Qaeda's Syria branch has posted a video purportedly showing its capture last week of members of a US-trained rebel force it accuses of aiding US-led air strikes against its fighters.
The Pentagon denied on Thursday that any graduates of its training program for moderate rebels had been captured in Syria.
But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that eight members of the 54-strong Division 30 unit inserted into Aleppo province in mid-July were being held by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.
The video released by the group on its YouTube account on Saturday appears to show at least some of the captured rebel fighters.
It depicts five men walking through a field in a straight line, hands behind their heads, supervised by one hooded man and one armed man.
One of the apparently detained men tells the camera he was recruited by the U.S. through intermediaries, to receive training in Turkey for a month and a half.
He said the trainees were each given an M16 assault rifle and some cash to "fight Nusra" in Syria.
A hooded man identifying himself as a Nusra member said the group had "cut the hand of the West and the Americans in Syria" by capturing the men.
While ISIS has been the main focus of the coalition bombing campaign, Nusra has also been targeted despite its fierce hostility to its jihadist rival.
In a statement on Facebook, the US-trained rebel group said five of its fighters had been killed and 18 wounded in the battle for the base.
Under the cover of U.S.-led air strikes, the remaining forces withdrew to the Afrin area of Aleppo province, which is held by Kurdish militia.
At least 25 Nusra fighters were killed, the Observatory said.