US: Only 60 Syrian rebels training to fight ISIS, number 'far lower than hoped for'

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter admits the number is much smaller than expected, after the Pentagon initially proposed a training program targeting 5,000 soldiers per year.

July 8, 2015 14:51
1 minute read.
Syrian rebels prepare for fighting in Syria

Syrian rebels prepare for fighting in Syria . (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confessed In testimony before the Senate armed services committee on Tuesday that the Pentagon is training only around 60 Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS, a number "much smaller than was hoped for at this point," The Guardian reported.

This number is significantly lower than the number of soldiers the Pentagon had announced in 2014 that it intended on training. They had initially proposed a training program consisting of 5,000 soldiers per year over a period of three years.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

In response, the Obama administration explained that the low number was due to the rigorous selection process, which narrows the pool of new recruits. Selection first involves a screening program  which ensures that the potential fighters have no history of atrocities and are willing to campaign in a way which complies with the laws of armed conflict.

"We know this program is essential. We need a partner on the ground in Syria to assure ISIS' lasting defeat," Carter reiterated.

Carter's statements were made during a hearing in which Republican senators questioned the Obama administration's Middle East policies.

US Senator John McCain, who was in attendance at the hearing, was quick to criticize the unimpressive number. "There is no compelling reason to believe that anything we are currently doing will be sufficient to achieve the president's long-stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS, either in the short-term or the long-term."

In recent weeks, the United States and its allies have conducted dozens of air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

In Syria, coalition forces targeted Islamic State positions with nine strikes near the cities of Hasakah, Ar Raqqah and Tal Abyad, destroying tactical units, fighting positions, vehicles and structures.

Last month, anti-ISIS fighters were able to seize two strategic towns, Ain Issa and Tal Abyad, which is located only miles from the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa.

Related Content

Syrian forces of President Bashar Assad are seen on al-Haara hill in Quneitra area, Syria
July 18, 2018
Syrian army pounds city of Nawa, causing casualties, residents say