July 7, 2015 / 6:39 PM / in 2 years

White House says 'not enough' Syrian rebels being trained

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare a cannon, to be fired towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in the northern countryside of Quneitra, Syria, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House acknowledged on Tuesday that the 60 Syrian rebel fighters the Pentagon is training to battle Islamic State was “not enough” but said rebels were being carefully screened before being admitted into the program.

“It is fair to say that the United States and our coalition partners are being judicious about deciding which individuals to send into the program,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “Clearly, that number is not enough.”

The program launched in May in Jordan and Turkey was designed to train as many as 5,400 fighters a year. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday the Pentagon had only trained 60 so far.

Reporting by Alex Wilts; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Sandra Maler

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