After many, many months of complaints by Russian military and diplomatic authorities that US advisor forces in Syria’s east were retraining ISIS and ISIS-like militants, a video (shown below) released by the Deir Ezzor-based opposition media outlet Euphrates Posthas confirmed it.
The video is the centerpiece in a puzzle of otherwise vague information that has been leaked about US intelligence activities in east Syria over the last year.
It should be made clear that the Arab fighters in the video below do not belong to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) proper, but rather a lesser known off-shoot militia called the Deir Ezzor Military Council (DMC).
DMC forces are – unlike the SDF – the project of the US Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency, separate from Pentagon initiatives and bureaucratic processes.
Fighters of the DMC are on the Department of State payroll (i.e. individuals receive a paycheck) which technically makes them US-vetted mercenaries instead of just ‘US-backed fighters’ (that implying military support from US military agencies only).
The history of DMC forces prior to their re-flagging under US initiatives is interesting. Most DMC fighters fall into two categories:
1) Syrian rebels or Euphrates tribesmen who merged into ISIS ranks during the terrorist group’s takeover of the Deir Ezzor region in 2013-2014 and then later surrendered to the SDF.
2) Jihadists of the Al-Qaeda affiliate group Jabhat al-Nusra (as it was called at the time) who battled government forces in Deir Ezzor until 2014 and were later expelled from the region by ISIS (after refusing to join ranks) and then absorbed by US intelligence in Jordan.
These are the ‘ISIS people’ that Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, General Valery Gerasimov warned about in late December 2017 when he claimed that over one thousand re-flagged ISIS and ISIS-like militants were being trained and equipped by US advisor forces in east Syria.
Over the last few days, and on at least one occasion before that, DMC forces have attacked positions of the Syrian Army and allied paramilitary groups in Deir Ezzor province without provocation (or any other kind of defensive pretext) at the towns of Khasham and At-Tabiyyah.
Both official SDF and other US coalition sources have failed to make any remark on the confrontational activities of the DMC and the simple reason for this is that neither the SDF (on its own) or US coalition bureaucracy is responsible for DMC actions – only the CIA is, and it has no obligation to publicly disclose information about its projects.