(US Defense Department)
Peter Cook

The US is pausing a program to train Syrian rebels as Russia increases its military presence in support of the Assad regime. The graduates of the program have suffered disastrous defeats at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Syria Rebel

A rebel with the Free Syrian Army. (AP/Virginie Nguyen Huang, File)

The US has suspended its program to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight against the Islamic State. The Pentagon announcement comes as Russia is stepping up its direct military support of the Assad regime. The US and Russia are cooperating to restore order in Syria, where the state of war has allowed for the proliferation of Islamic terrorism.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters Tuesday that the program, in which Syrian rebels are brought to Turkey and Jordan for military training, was under review. “As we review the program, we have paused the actual movement of new recruits from Syria,” he said. However, “We also continue to provide support for current forces on the ground and to train the cohorts currently in the program,” he indicated.

ISIS in Syria

Members of ISIS practice shooting in northern Syria. (AP)

The $500 million Department of Defense program has come under criticism in recent weeks after the US-trained rebels suffered a number of defeats at the hands of terrorist groups. In one incident, the rebels provided ammunition and equipment to the Nusra Front in return for safe passage.

The US is currently negotiating with Russia on an end to the war in Syria. Russia has increased its aid to the Assad regime, sending tanks, airplanes and thousands of soldiers to the country. Neighboring Israel, which provides humanitarian aid to moderate Syrian rebels in return for promises not to get to close to the border and not to harm the Druze population, responded by arranging a meeting of Prime Minister Netanyahu and top military and defense officials with Russia’s President Putin in order to reduce the risk of conflict between the two nations.

By: Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel