U.S. only training 60 Syrian fighters, far below expectations

Defense Secretary Ash Carter pauses as he testifies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 7. And not only is the number “much smaller than we hoped for at this point” – three months into the program – but the USA has not yet determined what it will do when those fighters are attacked by the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Carter said.


Obama’s critics seized on the figures as evidence that his strategy against Islamic State militants was failing in Syria and Iraq, where the U.S. military has publicly criticised Baghdad for not providing enough trainees. Still, he acknowledged, the number of rebels now in training is “not impressive”.

‘Should we say we’ll lay on charter flights to Syria; turn up with your passport and if you are over 18, if this is the life you want, then go?’.

“We are also refining our curriculum, expanding our outreach to the moderate opposition, and incorporating lessons learned from the first training class”.

Obama has yet to announce whether he will go beyond resupplying and financing the proxy force, and protect them with USA fighter jets if they clash with Assad’s forces.

Even though the US State Department has designated the PKK a terrorist organization since 1997, Carter made it clear that the Pentagon is now looking to the affiliated YPG to help conquer the Islamic State in Syria and then to hold political power. In his remarks Tuesday, Carter didn’t address the discrepancy. “That is a small comfort to the people you are recruiting now that a decision will be made later on”, he said.

Britain should allow extremists to travel to Syria to live under Isis instead of allowing them to “fester” in the United Kingdom, a ex- counter-terror chief has said, as London commemorates the 7/7 terror attacks on the capital.

McCain called that shameful.

Mr Blair warned that if the worldwide community was not prepared to tackle extremists groups such as Islamic State head on they would continue to grow. There are more people who are motivated, inspired or encouraged to mount these attacks.

There are no current plans to send additional US troops overseas, he said, repeating that the fight against the militant group would not be quick.

Inside the Obama administration’s struggle to deal with ISIS and the civil war in Syria.

“I expect that number to improve but you deserve to know the truth”, Carter told the Senate panel.

The militia’s success is one of the reasons the United States is intensifying its bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, Carter said. The revelation that a mere 60 fighters are being trained did little to assuage concerned lawmakers who, after some debate, approved the $500 million train-and-equip program last September.

The top Democrat on the committee, Senator Jack Reed, said Islamic State “remains the dominant force in western Syria”.

Some 3,550 American personnel at six locations across Iraq are working to build the capacity of Iraqi forces and advise and assist them.


Separate from the Syrian Kurds, the United States is training about 190 moderate Syrians at sites in Jordan and Turkey with the aim of sending them back into battle to defend their hometowns against the Islamic State. Another 4,000 are undergoing training.

Ex-head of counter-terror: UK should lay on charter flights to Syria for