“Less than 100 additional Syrian leaders have been trained”

Less than 100 additional Syrian leaders have been trained under a revamped U.S. program to fight the Islamic State group, U.S. officials said Monday. In October, the United States halted another train-and-equip program in Syria, which transported whole units of fighters out of the country to train at facilities in Turkey, Jordan and other locations. The fighters were given U.S. equipment, trained and transported back to Syria. But the vast majority of the Syrian units left the program or turned over their U.S.-provided equipment to other groups. The United States had planned to train about 5,000 fighters each year in the first program, which cost $346.8 million in fiscal year 2015. But in September, Gen. Lloyd Austin, who led U.S. Central Command at the time, informed Congress that only “four or five” U.S.-trained fighters were in Syria. On Monday, three U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the new train-and-equip program, which was started in March. The revamped program does not try to train entire units. Instead, it identifies key Syrian leaders and trains them in skills such as spotting potential targets for United States and coalition airstrikes”.

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