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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

US revamping militant training strategy in Syria: Report

Iran Press TV

Sep 7, 2015 5:29PM

The Pentagon is revamping its strategy of training so-called moderate militants in Syria ostensibly to battle the Daesh terrorist group, according to a report.

Department of Defense officials are drawing up plans to put larger number of newly-trained militants in safer zones as well as providing them with more intelligence on the Daesh (ISIL) terror network, The New York Times reported on Monday.

The shift in strategy comes after the first round of US-trained militants were attacked by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in July, highlighting several glaring deficiencies in the Pentagon program. One militant fighter was killed in the attack and five more were captured.

Classified assessments indicate that the militants were ill-prepared, deployed to Syria in too small numbers, had no local support from the population, and had inadequate intelligence about who they were supposed to fight, The Times said.

The so-called train and equip program has produced just 54 fighters at a cost of $41 million, according to CNN.

The militants, who have been “painstakingly vetted” and “equipped with fancy new weapons,” make up a group known as the New Syria Force.

The training program is undertaken under a $500 million initiative authorized by Congress last year. It is run by US Special Forces in Turkey and Jordan, and is separate from a similar covert program by the CIA.

The Pentagon initially said that it intended to train and arm 5,400 militants a year as a proxy ground force against Daesh.

Critics say US-allied militants could turn their training and weapons against the Syrian government rather than Daesh because they see the terrorists as fighting a parallel war.

The CIA and US Special Forces have also launched a secret drone campaign in Syria to target senior operatives of the Daesh group.

The covert operation is part of a “targeted killing program” that is run separately from the broader US military campaign in the country, The Washington Post reported last week.

It represents a significant expansion of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria, where the Daesh terrorists continue to control large swathes of land despite more than 2,400 airstrikes over the past year.

US President Barack Obama’s decision to enlist the CIA and special operations forces reflects a growing frustration within the US counterterrorism community that conventional airstrikes have so far failed to “degrade” the Daesh group.



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