04:53 GMT06 May 2021
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    Four more US-trained Syrians have returned to the country since Wednesday to fight ISIL, a Department of Defense spokesman stated.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — That makes a total of nine US-trained fighters to provide an alternative to the regular Syrian Army in combatting the forces of ISIL, the Army Times reported on Friday.

    This figure, modest as it is, almost doubles the "four or five" Syrian combat troops that US Central Command (CENTCOM) Army General Lloyd Austin admitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday were all the Defense Department had to show for the $500 million train-and-equip program so far.

    The US Congress in 2014 voted $500 million for the US armed forces to train a force of 5,400 troops by the end of 2015, drawn from Syria mostly secular opposition. Washington has been backing the Syrian opposition to topple and replace Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    However, there are at least a handful more of US-trained opposition troops in the pipeline to join the fight, CENTCOM spokesman Colonel Pat Ryder added on Friday, according to US media reports.

    Eleven more troops are expected to follow the current nine into combat, Ryder said, according to the Voice of America.

    US military officials recently revealed that the Defense Department has so far trained about 60 Syrian fighters, but has lost contact with most of them.

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    Tags:
    Daesh, military training, CENTCOM, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, US
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