Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front has allegedly abducted more than 10 Syrian fighters of the US-backed "Division 30" along with their leader, Nadim al-Hasan, inside Syrian territory, opposition sources and an activist group told Reuters.
A statement was released by members of the "Division 30" accusing Nusra Front of kidnaping their leader along with several of their comrades Tuesday night as a backlash to US’s efforts to train and equip fighters to battle ISIS.
Another statement was released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based activist group that reports on the conflict, said the fighters were abducted while returning from a meeting in Azaz, north of Aleppo, in hopes to coordinate efforts with other fighting factions.
The US training and equipping programme aims to reinforce certain Syrian fighters that the US sees as politically moderate to combat ISIS.
The Nusra Front, which the US has labeled as a “terrorist” group, has a track record of crushing US-backed fighters in Syria, according to Reuters.
One of the opposition factions closely allied with the Free Syrian Army - the Syria Revolutionaries Front - led by Jamal Maarouf, is known to be one of the most powerful leaders from the fighting opposition against Assad forces until his defeat by the Nusra Front last year.
The US-backed "Hazzm Movement" also collapsed earlier this year after losing its battle against the Nusra front in the northwest region of Syria.
The US military launched the programme in May, which aimed at training up to 5,400 fighters a year to combat ISIS, but with many candidates deemed ineligible and others dropping out, the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter stated that it has fallen far behind plans.
Both Washington and Ankara announced this week their intention to provide a "no-fly zone" over a 90 kilometre long strip of Syrian land along the Turkish border between the cities of Jarablus and Marea, which would sweep ISIS out by using US warplanes launching from Turkish bases.
No agreement has yet been reached between the US and Turkey regarding which Syrian fighting faction is to support in this mission.