Revised Pentagon program trains less than 100 Syria militants

A revamped training program by the Pentagon has trained less than 100 additional militants to combat Daesh terrorists in Syria, US officials said.
US military officials are considering ways to speed up training of Syria militants after another train-and-equip program was abandoned last October.
Units of Syria militants were transported out of Syria to train at camps in Turkey, Jordan and other locations under the $500-million program. However, the vast majority of the units left the battlefield or turned over their US-supplied weapons to other militant groups.
The US had originally planned to train a local force of about 5,000 militants each year in the first program. However, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who led Central Command at the time, said in testimony to Congress last September that only “four or five” militants were trained.
After repeated setbacks to that program, US officials revamped the initiative so that only small numbers of carefully-vetted militant leaders would be trained to direct airstrikes against Daesh and act as liaisons with US and allied forces.
This Reuters file photo shows graduates of a militant training program as they display their rifle skills in a camp near Damascus, Syria.
Officials said the revised program has managed to train less than 100 additional fighters, mostly outside of Syria, the Washington Postreported on Monday.
“What we’re looking at now is taking out key enabler personnel from certain units, training them and then reinserting them so they can provide information to the coalition to enable us to then target ISIL,” one official told the Post on condition of anonymity.
The groups include militants from northwest and southern Syria trained under the Pentagon’s first program.
The newly trained leaders are returning to their units with communications equipment, small arms, ammunition and vehicles to pass their training down the ranks, officials said.
“Rather than training 10 people to use a rifle, if you can train a smaller number of people to accurately describe their own position relative to the position of enemy forces, it enables them to better coordinate resupply and describe enemy positions,” one of the officials said.
Daesh terrorists, who were among the militants trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, control parts of the country. They also overran neighboring Iraq in 2014.
The terrorists have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Izadi Kurds, and Christians, in the areas under their control.



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