The suspension of the “train and equip” program aimed at fielding moderate rebels to fight ISIS in Syria was announced Friday by the Pentagon, as the Obama administration overhauls its struggling program.
But the U.S. military may already have discontinued something else: Protecting U.S.-backed rebels already in Syria.
A Centcom spokesman confirmed to Fox News on Friday that “air cover” was provided for the last group of “graduates” of the program.
A total of 70 U.S.-trained and equipped rebels entered Syria on Sept.19.
At the time, air cover was aimed at protecting the rebels from, among other things, Syrian air strikes, according to the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman.
While another Pentagon spokesman qualified that further, noting to Fox News on Friday they had "monitored the forward progress" of the the rebels "without the necessary intention of "engaging."
In the last week, it has been widely reported that other rebel groups, included those backed and geared up by the U.S., are being targeted by Russian aircraft, now active in the skies over Syria.
According to reports there has been no air-cover or protection provided for these American “allies."
A Centcom spokesperson told Fox News, “We continue to find ways to provide support for those in Syria who will fight against Da’esh (ISIS).”
Maybe not, however, for those rebels fighting Syrian regime forces or targeting Russian forces.
Meanwhile, in the last 24 hours, seven villages near Aleppo have been taken over by ISIS after rebels there were defeated, Abdulrahman tells Fox News.
Abdulrahman says that is, at least, an indirect result of Russian airstrikes on more moderate rebels.
"Because of the Russian strikes the rebels are always on the move," he said. "They are in one town one night, another the next."
Abdulrahman says ISIS has been able to take advantage of the rebels' disoriented state and regain ground.
All of this comes as Russia continues to claim its air campaign is against ISIS.
The SOHR head also told Fox News he agrees with the State Department assertion this week that only 10 percent of the targeting by Russia in Syria have been against ISIS, while the rest have been against anti-Assad forces.