End of $706m US plan to train Syrian rebels in fight against ISIS

LONDON • The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon's US$500 million (S$706 million) programme to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said yesterday, in an acknowledgment that the programme had failed to produce ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Pentagon officials were expected to officially announce the end of the programme late yesterday.

United States Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said at a news conference in London that he "wasn't happy" with the early efforts of the programme. "So we have devised a number of different approaches," he added.

A senior Pentagon official said there would no longer be any more recruiting of so-called moderate Syrian rebels to go through training programmes in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Instead, a much smaller training centre would be set up in Turkey, where a small group of "enablers" - mostly leaders of opposition groups - would be taught operational manoeuvres to fight ISIS.

The change makes official what those in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the administration have been saying for several weeks would most likely happen.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'End of $706m US plan to train Syrian rebels in fight against ISIS'. Print Edition | Subscribe