There is a multitude of information to be gleamed from the conflict in Syria.
ANTAKYA, Turkey — The rebel commander was nervous. He had changed phone numbers and been difficult to reach before finally agreeing to meet in Antakya, a city near the border with war-torn Syria that has long swarmed with rebels, refugees, and spies. On the road to an out-of-the-way hotel, he told the driver to avoid the main route through town. “It’s better not to drive among all the people,” he said.
It was an open secret that the commander had once received cash and weapons from the CIA, part of a covert U.S. program that backs rebel groups against both ISIS and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.
When his battalion was eventually driven from Syria by its jihadi rivals, like a number of U.S.-backed groups, he pleaded with his U.S. handlers for better support, but it wasn’t enough. So he was, he said, “out of the game.”
Now, he said, sitting at a quiet table at the hotel, he had received an offer that could bring him back in — and potentially make him even stronger than before.
He was being recruited, he said, to work for the U.S.’s rival in Syria: Russia.
“They told me, ‘We will support you forever. We won’t leave you on your own like your old friends did,’” he said. “Honestly, I’m still thinking about it.”
The commander said that five years into a war that has killed some 400,000 people and created nearly 5 million refugees, Russia is recruiting current and former U.S. allies to its side. His revelation was confirmed by four people who said they, too, had been approached with offers from Russia and by two Syrian middlemen who said they delivered them.
The moves come as Russia ratchets up its involvement in Syria with troops and airstrikes. Russia says its military campaign is designed to target ISIS — in reality it has targeted all rebels, including some who are still backed by the U.S., while also wreaking havoc on civilians.
Read the Remainder at Buzz Feed News
A Jordanian police officer shot and killed five people at a training center in the capital Amman on Monday, with two American instructors among the victims.
The motive of the gunman, who was shot and killed, wasn’t immediately clear and no group claimed responsibility. The shootings coincided with the 10th anniversary of coordinated bombings on three hotels in Amman, carried out by al Qaeda in Iraq. Those bombings killed 60 people.
A South African was among those killed in the shooting at the Jordan International Police Training Center. Two Jordanian civilian contractors who were wounded died later, government spokesman Mohammad Momani was quoted as saying by official Petra news agency. Two American trainers and two Jordanians were injured.
The U.S. Embassy in Amman advised people to avoid the area for the time being and to await further developments.
The Americans killed were civilian contractors for a State Department training program run at the center, State Department spokesman John Kirby said. As part of the program, the State Department provides a contracted training team of approximately two dozen senior police and security advisers to aid Jordanian instructors.
Read the Remainder at WSJ