The US is now paying the rebels it is training to fight Islamic State militants in Syria. Training of the first 90 fighters began in May.
Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson said that the trainees would receive $250 to $400 per month. Training of the first group of about 90 fighters began last month. They will be paid stipends of $250 to $400 per month. The amount paid will depend on the skills, leadership, and performance displayed. Training is expected to take several months before they are sent to Syria. Smith did not say how many were being trained at present. She also said that there would be no announcement when the rebels enter Syria.Defense Secretary, Ashton Carter, said in May that the recruits would receive some compensation but did not give any amounts. Colonel Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesperson, said that up to 200 Syrian fighters were undergoing training and that a further 1,500 had been screened for training. Smith said that the Pentagon's target was to have 3,000 recruits trained by the end of this year and 5,400 for a 12 month period. The training is taking place in countries bordering Syria including Jordan. There are about 6,000 Syrians who volunteered to take part in the program with more than 4,000 waiting to be vetted.Carter said that the Pentagon was having difficulty in finding good recruits as well in Iraq to train to fight the Islamic State there. While Iraqi and Kurdish forces have regained some ground with the Iraqi government retaking Tikrit, another city Ramadi has been taken by the Islamic State.In Syria, there seems to be a division of financing with the US financing moderate rebels while Turkey and Saudi Arabia are funding radical Islamists including the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front. While the US claims to be troubled by funding of the militants against Assad, they themselves are considering extending the concept of moderate rebels, and now any group not associated with the Islamic State may become the new moderates as James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence suggested recently. While countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia appear to make defeating Assad a first priority, the US is concentrating on defeating the Islamic State first.