US Has Only Trained 60 Anti-ISIS Syrian Rebels

The goal was 5,400 for the year, but vetting has been tricky
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2015 5:33 AM CDT
US Has Only Trained 60 Anti-ISIS Syrian Rebels
Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, File)

The Pentagon's plan to train an army of moderate Syrian rebels to defeat ISIS hasn't gotten off to the best start, officials admit: The $500 million program, which involves hundreds of US troops and training sites in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, has only trained 60 vetted candidates so far, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress yesterday. The program's goal was to produce 5,400 fighters a year as part of the White House's strategy to provide assistance to those fighting ISIS on the ground, reports Reuters.

Carter explained to the Armed Services Committee that around 7,000 potential fighters are being vetted, and authorities are trying to ensure that they have no history of atrocities and no intention of committing future ones, the Guardian reports. Defense sources tell Politico that while background checks have eliminated some rebels, many potential fighters who came forward have been rejected because they won't commit to only fighting ISIS and not the Assad regime they were rebelling against in the first place. (Israel's anti-ISIS strategy involves a very big fence.)

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