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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