Pentagon begins training third class of militants to fight in Syria
The US Department of Defense has now begun training its third class of the so-called moderate militants to fight ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Syria and Iraq, a spokesman says.
“We currently have two classes in training, and we continue to see significant interests and opposition forces volunteering for the program,” US Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder said on Friday.
The Pentagon deployed the first batch of trained militants into Syria last month. Al-Nusra Front terrorists attacked them, killing at least 11 and injuring several others.
The attack on July 31 came a day after the abduction by al-Nusra terrorists of eight militants from the so-called Division 30 armed group, which had been trained and supplied by the Pentagon, according to a statement issued by the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Certainly this past week highlighted some of the challenges associated with fielding the New Syrian Forces, but it’s important to keep in mind the success does hinge on one fight, or one event, and we’re still in the early phases of implementing this program,” Ryder said.
“We’re continually applying lessons learned and working as a coalition to make the [train and equip] program better,” he added.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control large parts of Iraq and Syria.
The first class of the Pentagon’s train and equip program officially started training in May. The second class began training in July. The third class began sometime since July 24.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had said the administration planned to train 3,000 by the end of the current year.
The program was approved last September and a received funding of $500 million in December by Congress, that envisioned training 5,000 per year and 15,000 over three years.
Last month, Ryder said that “the number of recruits will increase as the coalition learns how to better streamline its processes.
“We think that success will breed success. We think that this program will continue to increase the numbers,” he added.
He also noted that some of the fighters will fight against the government of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Analysts say many of the US-trained militants could eventually find themselves on the side of the ISIL Takfiris against a common enemy on the ground — the Syrian government forces.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. The United States and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside the Arab country.
According to the United Nations, more than 230,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for more than four years.