US Looking to Restart Syrian Rebel Training

The US-led coalition combating ISIS is looking to restart its failed program to train Syrian rebels by changing the approach to keep more rebels in the fight, the leader of US Central Command said. CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday that the US wants to restart the program with a different focus. Instead of taking fighters out of the fight for comprehensive training, the new program would instead take smaller groups of rebels in for short-term training focused on specific skills, Austin said. “The training would be shorter,” he said. “They would be able to greatly enable forces once they are reintroduced.” The Pentagon in October paused its $500 million effort to train Syrian rebels because it was not “generating the numbers it intended to generate.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in July that the US was training about 60 fighters; Austin said in a September hearing on Capitol Hill that just “four or five” rebels remained in the fight.