In September, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted the Obama administration and hawks in both parties for aiding the Syrian rebel groups opposed to President Assad.
Said Paul, “The rebels have been all over the map… There’s said to be 1500 different groups. It is chaos over there. We will be sending arms into chaos.” Paul said, “It’s a mistake to arm them. Most of the arms we’ve given to the so-called moderate rebels have wound up in the hands of ISIS, because ISIS simply takes it from them, or it’s given to them, or we mistakenly actually give it to some of the radicals.”
A year earlier, in May 2013, Foreign Policy reported (emphasis mine), “Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blasted members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday, which voted overwhelmingly to arm elements of the Syrian opposition in a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN).
“This is an important moment,” Paul said, addressing his Senate colleagues. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”
This month, the Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer reports, “Main U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Disbanding, Joining Islamists.” Writes Dettmer:
The Syrian rebel group Harakat al-Hazm, one of the White House’s most trusted militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad, collapsed Sunday, with activists posting a statement online from frontline commanders saying they are disbanding their units and folding them into brigades aligned with a larger Islamist insurgent alliance distrusted by Washington.
The statement bore Hazm’s stamp and logo, and according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, the brigade’s fighting units are disbanding. Emails and phone calls to Hazm’s political leaders were not returned.
“Given what is happening on the Syrian front, offenses by the criminal regime with its cronies against Syria as a whole, and Aleppo specifically, and in an effort to stem the bloodshed of the fighters, the Hazm movement announces its dissolution,” the statement said…
Dettmer added, “Hazm was frequently touted by Obama aides as one of the militias they could rely on—a brigade that could partner on train-and-equip.”
International Business Times reported March 4:
Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda showed off advanced US weaponry they seized from a moderate Syrian rebel group that recently disbanded.
The Nusra Front posted online images showing its fighters handling anti-tank BGM-71 TOW missiles Washington had supplied to one of its allied militias, Harakat Hazm.
Here are photos from Twitter earlier this month of al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra members holding U.S. aid and weapons that were given to Syrian rebels.
Criticizing Paul’s warnings against arming the Syrian rebels, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in 2013, “I don’t think any member of this committee would vote for anything we thought was going to arm al Qaeda.”
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington and served as his new media director.