Syrian rebel training program months from starting

The Hill reports: A program to train and equip 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels will begin in March and will not be completed until a year later in 2016, a senior State Department official told lawmakers on Wednesday.

“The training we hope will start in March,” Brett McGurk, deputy special presidential envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle expressed concern the program wasn’t moving fast enough to be effective against ISIS.

“There’s no telling what ISIS can do in that year, and however many months it is,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), a member of the committee.

“I don’t know anyone who seriously thinks that you can train effectively, even with successful vetting, 5,000 insurgents who are moderate and maybe secular, and they’re going to be reintroduced to Syria, and turn the tide,” said Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-Va.) [Continue reading…]

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