Centcom: 145 Syrian rebels from training program still active

Centcom: 145 Syrian rebels from training program still active
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A third class from the Pentagon's original program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has graduated and "remain active," according to U.S. Central Command (Centcom).

The program — which was halted earlier this month — continued training its third and last class, producing a total of about 145 New Syrian Forces — 95 of who are inside Syria, Centcom spokesman Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder told The Hill on Tuesday. 

A total of approximately 180 moderate Syrian rebels were trained under the program, which sought to train the rebels outside of Syria and bring them back inside the country, eventually building a force of 15,000 over three years.  

However, the program was effectively scrapped after the first class of 54 rebels was attacked by al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front after returning to Syria from training sites, and some in the second class admitted to handing over equipment to them. 

Some of those forces from the first class were recovered — about 20 or so, according to the estimates, but the rest are no longer considered active. It's unclear how many from which class are inside Syria. 

The Pentagon had spent approximately $384 million of the $500 million authorized for the program. Most of it was spent on weapons, equipment and ammunition, which is being maintained in storage by the U.S.-led coalition and remains available for use, the spokesman said. 

Some of the ammunition was airdropped to the Syrian Arab Coalition, an affiliation of about a dozen rebel groups that the coalition is now supporting with equipment to fight ISIS in northern Syria.