US senators urge Obama to stop training militants in Syria
Iran Press TV
Sun Oct 4, 2015 3:39PM
A bipartisan group of four US senators have demanded the Obama administration stop training militants in Syria, calling the program "a total failure."
"The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat," the four senators – three Democrats and one Republican – said in a letter.
Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, called President Barack Obama's program to train and arm militants in Syria a "total failure" that needs to be stopped immediately, before causing "additional harm" to the Syrian people.
"We ask that you cease the Syria Train and Equip Program and look for alternative ways forward," read the letter, addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan.
The $500-million program is the centerpiece of Obama's Syria policy. However, the program has faltered because most of its small cadre of trained militants have either defected to other terrorist groups or surrendered arms to salvage their lives.
"US CENTCOM confirmed that some of the fighters that we trained and equipped had turned over ammunition and trucks to al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. In exchange for safe passage, the fighters, trained by the US, gave up approximately 25% of their US-issued equipment," the letter further noted.
Pentagon officials admitted last month that the program has also fallen far short of its objective of training more than 5,000 militants each year, and of the several dozen who have been trained, only "four or five" are actually on the battlefield.
The US Defense Department announced last week that the entire program is "under review," although recruitment for militants is still ongoing in other countries.
The training program, allegedly aimed to train anti-Daesh (ISIL) forces, is run by US Special Forces in Turkey and Jordan, and is separate from a similar covert program by the CIA.
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