The US military is continuing to “equip” foreign-backed terrorists in Syria despite admitting failure and “a pause” in its $500-million program to train what it boasts as “moderate” militants in the Arab nation.
“There is a pause being put in place, while we focus more on the equipping side of those groups that are in Syria now and have proven competent against ISIL (Daesh),” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said during his Friday press briefing, as quoted in an RT report.
He further added that part of the militant training scheme is being temporarily “shelved,” without elaborating, referring to the US Defense Department questions on the controversial training bid for terrorists as well as reasons for the failure of the plan.
“Sometimes you run into obstacles and challenges you didn’t know you were going to have or you couldn’t have predicted,” Kirby stated. “I would also remind you that this particular aspect of the program is not being shelved forever.”
The development comes a day after reports that the US Congress had just passed a National Defense Authorization Act for 2016 that allocates nearly $600 million for the plan to train and support “appropriately vetted” militants in Syria to battle both the Syrian government troops as well as the rival Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
This is while Commander of the US military's Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, stated at a Congressional hearing on September 16 that only “four or five” American-trained militants were still fighting in Syria following reports that a group of the US-backed terrorists had joined the notorious Daesh militants along with their US-supplied weaponry.
Austin added that Washington will not reach its goal of training 5,000 Syrian militants anytime soon. The US had originally planned to have a force of 5,400 on the ground in Syria by December in a bid to challenge rival Daesh terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
The general’s remarks came merely two months after US Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the American military had only trained the “awfully small number” of nearly 60 Syrians.
The training of the Washington-approved terrorists, according to a Pentagon official cited in a New York Times report, was being carried out in US-backed Arab kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan.
The Obama administration announced the military training scheme last year and the Pentagon was granted $500 million for the plan in 2015. Washington's stated goal is to train 15,000 armed militants in three years.
Despite the US admission of only having a handful of “moderate” terrorists fighting in Syria, Washington has fiercely criticized Russia in recent days for targeting mainly the “moderate” militants in its air campaign against terrorist positions, ammunition depots and bomb-making plants across Syria.