US Senators Urge Carter, Kerry to End Train-and Equip-Program in Syria

© AFP 2022 / STAFF The Pentagon building in Washington, DC
The Pentagon building in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
The US train-and-equip program in Syria should be shut down because it is unsuccessful and escalates the conflict in the Middle East, Senators Joe Manchin, Chris Murphy, Tom Udall and Mike Lee stated in a letter to senior US officials on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The senators addressed the letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, State Secretary John Kerry and Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan.

"We write to express our deep concern about the Syria train and equip program and to call for an end to this failed initiative," the lawmakers said. "When Congress was considering the program last year, many of us expressed concerns about this program endangering Americans and further escalating the conflict."

Rebels from al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, wave their brigade flag, as they step on the top of a Syrian air force helicopter. - Sputnik International
US-Trained Fighters Immediately Gave Weapons to al-Qaeda Affiliate in Syria
The Pentagon confirmed last week that US-trained Syrian fighters provided equipment and ammunition to an al-Qaeda-linked group.

On Wednesday, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said around 70 fighters of the train-and-equip program returned to Syria from a training camp in Turkey. The group that operates as the New Syrian Force (NSF) was later thought to have defected to the terrorist Nusra Front.

The senators claimed that the train-and-equip program goes beyond being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.

"As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat," they said.

In 2014, the US Congress approved $500 million to train and equip about 5,400 Syrian rebels by the end of 2015 in order to combat the Islamic State.

However, the Pentagon recently admitted it had trained about 60 fighters and had lost contact with most of them, resulting in having only four or five fighters on the battlefield.

On September 18, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner told journalists that the United States will continue the train-and-equip program in Syria.

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