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US neglecting fight against ISIS, says Pentagon-trained rebel commander

The comments came amid reports of a US alliance with the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey labeled as an act of ‘hypocrisy’

Published: Updated:

The commander of the US-trained force of Syrian rebels battling ISIS said on Friday that the US is neglecting its duty to support the group in the fight against the militants.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lt. Col. Mohammed Tallaa, a Syrian officer who defected and is now the US-trained group’s commander, stated that his team is suffering from a lack of weaponry and equipment.

“I’m not saying the Americans let us down, but there is dereliction of duty. They are not doing what they could,” he said. “We don’t want the Americans to disrespect the lives of our men.”

The rebels had completed a training course in Jordan as part of the Pentagon’s $500 million effort to train and equip a force of Syrian rebels to take on the ISIS, which was conceived by President Barack Obama two years ago.

Tallaa’s comments came after an ISIS suicide attack this month killed a number of the group – which the report said put the last remaining Pentagon-trained rebels in Syria at jeopardy.

The commander did not give details of the precise number of casualties — and the number of rebels at the base — for fear of endangering the remaining rebels, but said that the attack came as a heavy blow to the small and under-equipped force.

Low morale

According to Tallaa, those who survived are now questioning whether they want to remain and await further attacks by the militants.

However, according to the report a US military spokesman said warplanes responded when the base was bombed, but did not arrive in time because the attack happened so fast.

The spokesman added that airstrikes have since been carried out against ISIS in the area and a new supply of weapons have been delivered.

As well as cooperating with who they deem to be moderate Syrian rebels, the US has also forged an alliance with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey labeled as an act of “hypocrisy.”

Turkey’s statement came after US commandos in Syria were pictured supporting a major ground offensive led by the YPG, which is branded a terror group by Ankara.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was “unacceptable” that US troops had been seen wearing YPG insignia in images taken by an AFP photographer.

“We advise them (US troops) to wear badges of Daesh (ISIS) or (al-Qaeda affiliate) al-Nusra when they go to other parts of Syria and badges of Boko Haram when they go to Africa,” Cavusoglu said with angry sarcasm.

“If they don’t see these (groups) as the same as the YPG, then this is double standards, hypocrisy,” the Turkish diplomat added.