Pentagon Aims to Train Small Syria Opposition Force
Program could start next year, slowly expand
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 16, 2014 12:00 PM CDT
In this June 5, 2014 photo, a woman walks through a devastated part of Homs, Syria. Syrian government forces retook the control of Homs in May 2014, after a three year battle with rebels.   (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

(Newser) – The Pentagon has a plan to train some moderate opposition fighters in Syria, but it may struggle to win congressional approval. Administration officials want to start small, training just 2,300 people; the program would be "scalable" from there, a top defense official tells the Wall Street Journal. It would likely last 18 months and start next year. The planners believe that few candidates will be able to pass a tough vetting system aimed at keeping extremists out—hence the force's minimal size.

With moderate fighters struggling against Bashar al-Assad's forces, the administration wants to act soon. But reaction to the $500 million proposal has been mixed. The administration doesn't expect the plan to bring immediate change in Syria, and some members of Congress want to see a bigger force. What's more, it's not clear where the training program would take place; Jordan, fearing retaliation, has been reluctant to allow it, reports the Journal. Click for the full story.