(Worthy News) - The New York Times says U.S. defense officials are drawing up plans to revise the training of moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Syria following "significant shortcomings" in training and tactics. The assessment comes as Washington asks Greece to close its airspace to Russian supply flights to Syria amid concerns of a Russian military buildup in Syria.
The newspaper, citing four senior Defense Department and Obama Administration officials, says the proposed changes follow a July 31 attack on 54 Syrian rebel graduates by members of the al-Nusra Front (NSF), the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida. According to classified assessments, the Syrian rebels were ill-prepared for the attack, were too few in number, lacked local support and were deployed during the Eid holiday, when many recruits took leave to visit their relatives.
Among the options to improve results of the $500-million program include enlarging the force, shifting their deployments to ensure local support and improving intelligence. The overt train-and-equip program is run by U.S. Special Forces and allied trainers in Turkey and Jordan. It is separate from a covert program run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Because of a stringent screening process, only dozens have been approved among thousands who have applied. After one year, supporters conceded the program is falling short of the 5,000 trained fighters originally envisioned. [ Source ]