File - Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria.
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Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight ISIS, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year.That program, together with a more advanced but also troubled parallel effort to rebuild the Iraqi army, is central to the U.S.-led effort to create ground forces capable of fighting ISIS without involving U.S. ground combat troops.Of approximately 6,000 volunteers, about 1,500 have passed muster and await movement to training camps in other countries. Citing security concerns, the Pentagon will not say exactly how many are in training. Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, the Central Command special operations commander who is heading the program, wants volunteers with more than a will to fight.Abdul-Jabbar Abu Thabet, commander of Aleppo Swords Battalion, a moderate faction that is fighting both Assad's forces and ISIS, said he believes the Americans are more interested in recruiting Syrian army defectors than moderate rebels.The Pentagon also is wrestling with how to support those who complete the training and are sent back into Syria.
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