WASHINGTON -- A video purporting to show U.S.-trained fighters captured in Syria could not be independently verified, but there's no doubt the Pentagon's first attempt to insert fighters into Syria met with what one official called "abject failure."
Nearly half the force was either killed, captured or missing and they never even came in contact with ISIS.
Officially called the New Syrian Force (NSF), the first contingent of 54 fighters was trained by the U.S. military at a base in Turkey and sent across the border into Northern Syria. But instead of fighting ISIS, they unexpectedly came under attack by al Nusra -- a different radical Islamic group.
The NSF called for American air strikes and the al Nusra attack was repulsed. Only one member of the NSF was killed while the enemy lost an estimated 30 fighters.
But what appeared to be a victory turned into defeat when the rest of the NSF scattered. Some were captured by al Nusra. Some made it back to Turkey. Others are simply missing.}
Despite the bad start, the Pentagon insisted it remains committed to the training program, which is a linchpin of a strategy that depends on local ground forces taking advantage of American air strikes to recapture territory seized by ISIS.
Hundreds more fighters are currently in training or waiting to start.
So far the Pentagon has spent $42 million setting up the program and plans to spend a total of $500 million to train and equip 12,000 fighters.