Russian TV Reports U.S. Secretly Backing ISIS in Syria

Eric Zuesse

Russian television headlined on September 1st, “Syrian rebel defector says his US-trained unit sold arms to ISIS”, and reported statements by a defector from — a man who had quit — the U.S.-backed Maghawir al-Thawra group, the remnants of America’s New Syrian Army. The CIA-organized New Syrian Army had, in turn, been the remnants of the Free Syrian Army, which the U.S. had formed in Syria in 2011, during the “Arab Spring” uprisings across Arabia. So, this defector had quit from what was actually the straggling and failing end, of America’s proxy-army of Syrians, who were fighting to overthrow Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. Government had used the uprising in Syria to bring down Assad, who is allied with Russia. Ever since 1949, the U.S. Government has been trying to take over Syria. After the “Arab Spring,” the U.S. backed Al Qaeda in Syria in order to transform that Syrian uprising into that long-sought U.S. victory. What this defector said had caused him to quit, was America’s lies about what they were fighting for, and what they were fighting against. He didn’t want to be fighting for ISIS, against Assad. That’s what the Syrian war had now come down to, and so he quit.

This defector had been stationed at America’s Tanf military base inside Syria, ten miles north of (U.S. ally) Jordan, at which base the U.S. was claiming to be training “anti-ISIS” “moderate rebels.” Apparently, as the war progressed, America’s promises to its fighters in Syria changed from overthrowing Assad, to defeating ISIS, because even Assad’s opponents inside Syria came increasingly to abandon their efforts to overthrow Assad, while they increased even more their determination to conquer ISIS.

This is one of several military bases that the U.S. has set up inside Syria after having invaded that country subsequent to the “Arab Spring.” That U.S. base is illegal — it’s a hostile military occupation of Syrian sovereign territory — but all of America’s presence in Syria is that. The U.S. Government doesn’t care about illegality, except when it can be cited against a country that the U.S. wants to conquer, such as against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (his ‘WMD’ or weapons of mass destruction), to ‘justify’ invading it.

This defector, Assad As-Salem, says he defected because America’s statements and promises were all lies, and that, instead of fighting ISIS, the U.S. was training fighters to use U.S.-made weaponry which was being supplied to the base, but which the head of the base sold to ISIS; and that some Maghawir al-Thawra regulars, according to the article posted by Russian Television, “reported that to American base command, but following our report no action has been taken, the Americans only ramped up the support to the man who was appointed our commander and who was dealing with ISIS,’ As-Salem said.” The U.S. had appointed their commander, who was actually assisting ISIS — a group the defector loathes. And the U.S. didn’t punish that commander, but instead “the Americans only ramped up the support to the man who was appointed our commander and who was dealing with ISIS.”

If that statement is true, then the countries which have been financing ISIS (mainly Saudi Arabia) are the actual buyers of these U.S.-made weapons; and, of course, the U.S. weapons-manufacturers were actually selling these weapons to the funders of ISIS, which funders then donated these weapons to ISIS, as their part of the U.S. coalition’s campaign to overthrow and replace Assad. Of course, the Sauds regularly receive training by the U.S. in how to operate U.S.-made weapons; so, this training can be passed along to ISIS, by their U.S.-trained Saudi troops.

What’s described here is, then, essentially, a sales-and-marketing campaign by the U.S. Government, to increase sales-volumes for U.S. weapons-makers (who, of course, heavily lobby Congress, so they’ve got support there to increase military funding). This is truly the free market at work, but relying heavily upon government, as any economy itself inevitably must (because without laws, etc., there can’t be any “market” at all). (To be against corruption is intelligent; to be against ‘government’ is not; government is necessary. The only question about government is “good or bad?” not “small or large.”) This sales-and-marketing campaign certainly isn’t the libertarians’ fantasy of creating zero government (anarchy), nor even just “to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub” — as one mega-corporate lobbyist proudly proclaimed to be his goal. It’s the real world; it’s no libertarian (or any other) fantasy about things, at all.

A link to this news-report on RT, Russian Television, became posted at reddit, under the category “Syrian Civil War”, and reader-comments there were generally in the nature of “Corrupt Syrian soldiers sell arms to rebels and corrupt rebels sell arms to ISIS/Al Nusra.” Apparently, most readers were blaming the Syrians, not the U.S. Government. However, one comment was at least open-minded: “War and corruption go hand in hand. One should try to investigate here.” That “investigation” is our aim. But in order to investigate the situation, one must first know accurately what it really is. One can’t know that, without knowing the relevant context, which is what we are now focusing on.

This report, from RT, provides a very different picture than does a recent article by America’s CNN, on July 26th, headlined “US tells local Syrian allies they must only fight ISIS and not Assad, prompting exit of allied group”, which stated that:

(CNN)The US-led coalition fighting ISIS has told its local Syrian allies that they must be exclusively focused on fighting ISIS and not fight the Syrian regime, a directive that prompted one rebel group to depart a joint coalition base in Southern Syria, several coalition and US defense officials told CNN.

“The coalition supports only those forces committed to fighting ISIS,” coalition spokesman US Army Col. Ryan Dillon told CNN.

But one US-backed group which calls itself “the Shohada Al Quartyan” has balked at the restriction, opting to leave the base to carry out independent operations against Syrian regime troops several US and coalition officials told CNN. The officials added that other local allies remain at the garrison and continue to cooperate with coalition advisers.

“The Shohada Al Quartyan have made it known that they may want to pursue other objectives. The coalition is making it clear to Shohada Al Quartyan leadership that if they choose to pursue other objectives, the coalition will no longer support their operations,” Dillon said. …

Though both the RT report and the CNN report agree that the U.S. Government is telling its Syrian ‘moderate rebels’ that they are fighting against ISIS, the reports disagree in that RT’s says that quitters are leaving because America’s actual focus is on overthrowing Assad, whereas CNN’s says that quitters are leaving because there’s not enough focus on overthrowing Assad. Both reports could be true, because the two reports deal with different groups of ‘Syrian rebels’.

Perhaps, the U.S. is telling its fighters in Syria, their target is to be only ISIS, even at the same time that the U.S. is actually using those fighters as an excuse to bring into Syria U.S.-made weaponry that are secretly then to be supplied to ISIS. Of course, if that’s the real case, the Shohada al-Quartyan people might be leaving the U.S. alliance because they’ve been deceived by their American bosses to think their target to be ISIS instead of Assad. However, the Maghawir al-Thawra group are alleged to have quit the U.S. alliance on account of having been lied-to and themselves seen that the U.S. is actually selling U.S.-made weapons to ISIS. The CNN article alleges only that the Shohada al-Quartyan group had left because of what their U.S. bosses merely told them: that ISIS would now be the target. So, possibly, both articles are true; but, in that case, America is now telling Syrian rebels that their focus is to be on eliminating ISIS; and, some rebel-groups are abandoning the American effort because of this instruction, while other rebel-groups are abandoning the American effort because that allegation by their U.S. commanders is actually a lie and the U.S.’s real objective is to overthrow Assad.

Therefore, quite possibly, both RT and CNN are telling different aspects of the same narrative (though focusing on different aspects of it).

I have previously provided detailed documentation that the U.S. was relying almost exclusively upon Al Qaeda in Syria — called “al-Nusra” there — in order to lead and train virtually all anti-Assad forces there. However, apparently, the more successful the Syrian-Russian-Iranian coalition has been at defeating in Syria the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-UAE coalition, which employed Al Qaeda’s leaders in Syria to train fighters to overthrow and replace Assad, the more reliance the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-UAE group has come to place upon ISIS, and the less they’re placing upon Al Qaeda in Syria.

I reported on this development — America’s increasing reliance upon ISIS after the decline of Al Qaeda in Syria — in several previous articles, especially these two:

12 December 2016, “Obama and Erdogan Move ISIS Terrorists from Iraq to Syria, to Weaken Assad”

30 April 2017, “How Obama & Erdogan Moved ISIS from Iraq to Syria, to Weaken Assad”

Those ISIS jihadists were being moved from the Iraqi city of Mosul, to the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, otherwise called Der Zor, at the center of Syria’s oil-well territory. If ISIS wins firm control of that city, plus transit-routes out in order to sell the oil, they won’t need any more money from the Sauds. CNN starts their report with the false assumption that Syria doesn’t own Syria, that Syrian national sovereignty (the legal Government of Syria, which is headed by Assad) doesn’t exist; and, so, CNN continued their 26 July 2017 report:

Some time ago, Bashar al-Assad’s forces — supported by Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah proxy militias on the ground, and Russian air force on the air — realized that ISIS was in retreat, so they moved quickly to grab as much territory as they could [notice the allegation here, that Syria’s Government is ‘grabbing’ this Syrian territory, which ISIS had stolen]: in the north to west of Raqqa; in the middle of the country moving east of Palmyra, toward Al Sukhna — a crossroads town considered a gateway to Deir Ezzor; and in the south along the Jordanian and Iraqi borders in Tanf, blocking the path to Deir Ezzor. It’s obvious that Assad and his allies are eyeing Deir Ezzor. [This statement reinforces that Assad isn’t the legitimate head-of-state there.]

If Assad and his allies reach Deir Ezzor and the strategic border town of Abu Kamal before the coalition forces advancing from north, then it’s game over for the coalition.

CNN’s ‘news’ treats America’s attempted theft of Syria, from the Syrian Government, as being instead an attempted protection of the Syrian people, from the Syrian Government. (Never mind that America is backing jihadists to become the new Syrian government, as a supposed improvement upon Assad’s decidedly secular Government of Syria.) And America claims to be a law-abiding nation, ‘protecting the peace of the world’, instead of to be grabbing yet another piece of the world.

That CNN ‘news’-report is cited here only as being a contrast to the news-report on Russian Television. So, we’ll now briefly complete our discussion of the RT report:

In other words, America’s sudden determination, late in Obama’s Presidency, to oust ISIS from Mosul in Iraq, was intended specifically to provide this emergency-assistance by means of ISIS, to the U.S. coalition’s failing al-Qaeda-led effort to overthrow Assad. This is what we know of Obama as a strategic thinker. He was resourceful, and adapted to changing conditions, when he was faced with the failure of his existing strategy. There aren’t yet sufficiently clear signs to indicate Trump as a strategic thinker.

According to another RT news-article, on August 25th, Al Qaeda still remains intensely devoted to the effort to oust Assad. (Perhaps Al Qaeda still is getting enough support from the Sauds and UAE, even if the U.S. is no longer backing them.) RT headlined “New 25,000-strong Syrian terrorist force unites 70 gangs – Russian General Staff”, and reported that:

A new terrorist formation, Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham, consists of 25,000 militants, with Jabhat al-Nusra jihadists at its core, the intelligence chief of Russia’s General Staff said. He also spoke of the terrorists’ favorite tactics, state-of-the-art equipment and ways of getting profit.

“Currently, more than 70 gangs, including those from the ranks of the opposition, which used to consider themselves ‘moderate,’ have banded together. The total strength of the Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham group exceeds 25,000 militants,” Col. Gen. Igor Korobov, the head of the Main Directorate of the Russian General Staff (the foreign military intelligence agency), said during a roundtable on Friday as part of the Army-2017 international military-technical forum, held in the Moscow Region.

The key role in the formation belongs to Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front)

Here is what Peter Korzun, at Strategic Culture, said on September 1st, about Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham:

Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), an alliance led by al Qaeda’s former Syrian branch, has consolidated its grip over large parts of Idlib after their main rival, the Kuwait-backed Ahrar al Sham, was ousted from the province’s main towns and villages. The HTS is even crueler than Islamic State (IS). Its leadership rejects the very idea of dialogue with anyone. The group is a great spoiler and a hindrance on the way to Syria’s crisis management based on the [Russian-led] Astana peace process. No ceasefire or peace is possible as long as this Al-Qaeda affiliate controls the province and its border with Turkey.

On August 7th, al-Monitor, the news-site owned by Jamal Daniel of Houston, who is the head of Crest Investment Company, and a friend of the Bush family (who are buddies of the royal Sauds), reported about HTS, by saying that “the group’s aggressive behavior reflects the organization’s priority to expand its territory and consolidate its power, which would make it a de facto interlocutor in the cease-fire deals ongoing in Syria.” A reasonable assumption would be that HTS is extremely well-funded by outside sources.

Apparently, the U.S. still hopes to win this war: On August 19th, South Front bannered “US-LED COALITION WARPLANES BOMB SYRIAN ARMY IN KADIR VILLAGE IN CENTRAL SYRIA. ISIS ATTACK FOLLOWS – REPORTS”, and said that:

Warplanes of the US-led coalition have carried out airstrikes on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces in the village of Kadir in the province of Homs, according to pro-government sources.

America’s support of ISIS in Syria, is, in any case, becoming more overt. And, Al Qaeda’s failure, which caused the U.S. to turn to ISIS instead, has left the Saud-backed Al Qaeda competing with ISIS now, as the prime head-choppers against Syrians.

Regardless of what the explanations for America’s turn (at least temporarily) toward ISIS are, America’s weapons-makers will profit handsomely from it, just as they have profited enormously from the entire Syrian campaign since 2011. It’s probably an effective business-strategy for them, at the present stage.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.