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MILLIONS of dollars’ worth of US military equipment has gone missing in Syria, the Pentagon has admitted, raising fears that it may have fallen into the hands of jihadist groups.
A report by the Department of Defence’s office of the inspector general said that “theatre-provided equipment” worth $4.1 million (£3.2m) was not accounted for in an audit conducted as US forces prepare to withdraw from the country.
The report blamed “internet connectivity problems” for its inability to “continuously account for 69 pieces” of military hardware, with another 10 items lost through troops failing to follow official guidance.
The US military has maintained a presence in Syria since 2014 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a mission supposedly aimed at defeating the Isis death cult, which seized control of large parts of the country that year.
But the US has consistently been accused of fuelling jihadist atrocities, with CIA covert operations arming a myriad of Islamist groups associated with Isis and al-Qaida. The flow of weapons and other military equipment into Syria has been described as an “industrial revolution of terrorism.”
The covert Timber Sycamore programme, which cost more than $1 billion (£803m), was started by the Obama administration and lasted four years until current US President Donald Trump cancelled it in 2017.
But US equipment still litters Syria’s battlefields. During mopping-up operations, government forces have consistently reported finding US-supplied weapons at former jihadist bases across the country.
This is not the first time that US military equipment has been lost in Syria. In February 2018, a similar audit discovered that $715m in weapons and equipment had not been properly stored or accounted for.
Mr Trump announced last year that US troops would leave the country, tacitly admitting that Washington’s bid to topple President Bashar al-Assad had been defeated.
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