The US military is currently training fewer than 100 so-called moderate militants in Syria to fight the ISIL terrorist group, highlighting a troubled training program that has failed to reach its target of producing 5,400 militants a year.
Pentagon officials said last week that they still hope for producing 3,000 militants by the end of the year, but privately acknowledged the trend is moving in the wrong direction, The Associated Press reported.
The military training effort is moving so slowly that critics doubt it can produce enough fighters capable of pushing back the ISIL Takfiri terrorists from Syria.
The program, which was delayed by several months because of difficulty in finding and vetting militants, is taking place in Syria’s neighboring countries, including Jordan and Turkey.
Approximately 6,000 individuals have so far volunteered for the training program, but only about 1,500 have passed the first stage of selection and await movement to training camps in other countries.
The Pentagon has not said exactly how many militants are in training, citing security concerns. Officials said that as of Friday, the number was under 100 and that none has completed the program.
“We are trying to recruit and identify people who … can be counted on … to fight, to have the right mindset and ideology,” and at the same time be willing to make combating ISIL their first priority, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on June 17.
“It turns out to be very hard to identify people who meet both of those criteria,” Carter said.
Many militants in Syria opt to use their training to fight the government of President Bashar al-Assad rather than ISIL because they see the terrorists as fighting a parallel war.
Observers say that while the US and its allies claim they are fighting against terrorist groups like ISIL, they in fact helped create and train those organizations to wreak havoc the Middle Eastern countries.
The ISIL terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.