Obama has said that the failed $500 million program to set up a proxy army in Syria was a test…
During an interview the US president said that he had doubts about the project from the start. He also said that he ruled out sending US troops to Syria.
“I’ve been skeptical from the get-go about the notion that we were going to effectively create this proxy army inside of Syria.” he told ’60 Minutes. “My goal has been to try to test the proposition, can we be able to train and equip a moderate opposition that’s willing to fight ISIL?”
Broadcast Sunday night, Obama’s interview with CBS correspondent Steve Kroft was recorded last Tuesday, days before the administration announced it would stop attempting to train a force of ‘moderate’ militants in Syria.
After spending hundreds of millions of dollars, Washington had only “four or five” fighters to show for the effort. Most of the equipment ended up in jihadist hands as US-trained rebels were captured or deserted without ever facing Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) in battle.
Asked why he went through with the program he doubted, Obama responded that part of what he has to do “is to try different things,” adding another reason was “because we also have partners on the ground that are invested and interested in seeing some sort of resolution to this problem.”
“And they wanted you to do it,” Kroft asked.
“Well, no. That’s not what I said,” Obama replied.
Obama’s efforts to reframe almost every question and at times change the subject appeared to irk Kroft, who at one point remarked, “I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.”
The White House said last Friday it was dropping the training program because it had not lived up to expectations, but said it would continue providing weapons to the ‘moderate’ Syrian militants.