Date
20 November 2017
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington on May 7. Photo: Reuters
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington on May 7. Photo: Reuters

US starts training Syrian fighters to combat Islamic State

The United States has started training Syrian fighters to combat Islamic State militants, kicking off a program in Jordan and planning to extend it soon to Turkey, Reuters reported.

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was quoted as saying Thursday that the military was starting small, training a first group of just 90 Syrians, who would be paid a stipend.

With Syrian rebels and some US lawmakers skeptical about the program, saying that it is too small and slow, Carter acknowledged that it will be a few months before the first group of fighters would be deployed.

The Pentagon is proceeding with caution, in part to limit the risks that US-trained fighters would commit human rights violations.

“We’re starting with the people that we have that we’ve vetted very carefully,” Carter was quoted as saying at a Pentagon news briefing.

The Obama administration says the program aims only to target Islamic State forces, since the United States is not at a war with Syria.

But experts believe the US-trained fighters could also face off with Syrian government forces eventually. 

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RC

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