The Pentagon will send up to 1,000 soldiers and other personnel on a mission to train Syrian rebels as part of the fight against the Islamic State, Defense Department officials said Friday. The training mission, to take place in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, will begin in the early spring, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, with soon-to-be-vetted “moderate” Syrian rebels. In addition to sending some 400 soldiers, the Pentagon will be sending several hundred others to provide logistics, communications and other support, bringing the number of Americans working to train Syrian rebels to around 1,000 people.Meanwhile, the latest documentary on the Syrian war is showing in New York, Our Terrible Country by Mohammad Ali Atassi. The film focuses on Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a longtime Syrian dissident who was one of the first leaders of the uprising. But as the film progresses Saleh's brother is kidnapped by the Islamic State and his wife by a different Islamist faction, and he eventually flees into Turkey:
“The journey no longer made sense,” Mr. Saleh intones in a voice-over, reading from an essay he wrote later. “However, I had no choice but to continue.”Indeed the Syrian civil war no longer makes any sense for anyone but the Islamic State and their partisans; for everyone else it is nothing but suffering. Why are we sending more men and money to prolong the agony? Why can't we just admit that Assad's regime is the only realistic alternative to ISIS and cut a deal with him?
The film suggests Syria’s revolt is itself on a parallel journey: diverted by extremists in the wrong direction, yet unable, or unwilling, to turn back.