The U.S. military’s program to train and equip thousands of moderate Syrian rebels is faltering, with fewer than 100 volunteers, raising questions about whether the effort can produce enough capable fighters quickly enough to make a difference in the war against the Islamic State.
The fight against the Islamic State group received a jolt of energy when the United States and Turkey sealed a pact to train and arm Syrian rebels. Two months later, the program faces delays and skepticism — as Turkish officials, Syrian rebels and even former American advisers openly question whether it can ever have any battlefield impact.
The effort to train and arm Syrian rebels proved a tough sell with many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans now serving in the House. Wariness among veterans crossed party lines as Republicans Democrats alike said they feared weapons and training would one day be used against Americans instead of against militants seeking an Islamic state.
General approval from Democrats and Republicans in Congress to the president’s ISIS strategy address to the nation.
President Barack Obama’s top national security advisers met Wednesday to air their reservations about arming Syria’s rebels, with officials acknowledging that the growing alarm over the Assad regime’s rapid military advance is unlikely to translate into any U.S. policy shift toward deeper involvement in the conflict.
The United States and Germany on Friday warned Russia not to endanger a planned peace conference for Syria or alter the balance of power in the Middle East by providing an advanced air defense system to President Bashar Assad’s embattled regime.
Sen. John McCain on Tuesday praised the “brave fighters” battling the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and renewed his call for the Obama administration to move aggressively militarily to aid the opposition.
The United States said Sunday that it will double its non-lethal assistance to Syria’s opposition as the rebels’ top supporters vowed to enhance and expand their backing of the two-year battle to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Declaring that “it’s time to change course in the Middle East” and accusing Obama of “passivity,” Romney plans to call Monday for the U.S. to work with other countries to arm rebels in Syria with weapons that can defeat the “tanks, helicopters and fighter jets” that make up President Bashar Assad’s army.