UN ambassador defends arming Syrian rebels

UN ambassador defends arming Syrian rebels
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha PowerSamantha Power134 foreign policy experts condemn Trump travel ban How will history judge Obama’s actions in Syria? Russia's ambassador to the United Nations dies MORE is defending the much-maligned plan to arm Syrian rebels.

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Power said on ABC’s “This Week” that ground troops are necessary to combat Islamic State forces in the region.

“We decided to go forward for a very simple reason, which is that when ISIL is cleared from a town – let’s say a town in the northern part of Syria – it’s extremely important that the town be held and that ISIL not reoccupy it as soon as the air strike or something ceases,” Power said on Sunday. “And so you really need ground forces.”

The ambassador acknowledged that the plan turned out to be more complex than the White House initially thought.

“It’s obviously even more complex, I think, than we would have envisioned,” Power said.

Central Command initially said the $500 million arm-and-train program only created “four or five” fighters in the war-torn state, but have since upped that estimate to approximately 70 fighters.

Centcom also revealed on Saturday that about a quarter of the weapons had been given voluntarily to al Qaeda’s Syria arm, Jabhat al Nursa.