BREAKING: Obama administration ends $500mn program to train Syrian rebels

© Bassam Khabieh
The Obama administration is set to overhaul the Defense Department’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels. The US president is expected to speak on the matter later on Friday.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said during a Friday news conference in London that he “wasn’t happy with the early efforts” of the program, adding that “we have devised a number of different approaches.”

“I think you’ll be hearing very shortly from [President Obama] in that regard about the proposals that he has approved and that we are going to go forward with,” Carter said following a meeting with his British counterpart Michael Fallon.

Meanwhile, a Pentagon official told The New York Times that the recruitment of so-called moderate Syrian rebels to go through training programs in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates will end.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, added that a much smaller training center will be opened in Turkey, where a small number of “enablers” – mostly leaders of opposition groups – will be taught operational maneuvers, such as how to call in airstrikes.

A top US General told Congress in September that only “four or five” US-trained rebels were still fighting on the ground, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ga.) calling the program a “total failure.”

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