US begins training Syrian rebels in Jordan

US begins training Syrian rebels in Jordan

After months of delays, the United States has begun training moderate Syrian opposition rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

U.S. officials told The Associated Press that the training has begun in Jordan, at a site set up by the U.S. and allies in the coalition against ISIS.

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The other sites are in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Turkish officials have estimated its training site would open in May. 

Pentagon officials say more than 3,750 Syrian fighters have volunteered for the training program, which is planned for about 5,000 trainees per year. 

So far, only about 400 have completed the pre-screening, however. About 450 coalition forces will train the rebels, including about 350 Americans.

Congress has authorized the program for three years. The White House asked for $500 million for the program this year. The House's 2016 defense policy bill would boost that to $600 million next year. 

Some members of Congress — both Republicans and Democrats — are skeptical of the program, which they fear could end up arming extremists. Pentagon officials say they are carefully vetting recruits to the program.