U.S. abandoning goal of building new Syrian rebel force

U.S. will give weapons, support to some rebel leaders

The U.S. is abandoning its goal of training a new force of moderate Syrian rebels and will focus on equipping and supporting established rebels groups already fighting against the Islamic State group inside Syria, officials said Friday.

The change, which has not yet been officially announced, reflects the failure of the current approach, which has produced only a handful of combat-ready moderate rebels and drawn widespread criticism in Congress.

Officials briefed on the new approach said it would focus heavily on equipping and enabling established Kurdish and Arab rebel groups rather than recruiting and vetting a new cadre of moderate rebels, training them at camps in Turkey and Jordan and re-inserting them into Syria. The $500 million US Congress provided last year for the program will be used more for equipping select rebel groups inside Syria, with limited training activity.