Pentagon pays Syrian rebels up to $400 a month to fight ISIS

Pentagon confirms it pays Syrian moderate opposition forces to fight against ISIS militants

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States has begun paying modest stipends to Syrian rebels for them to battle ISIS militants, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday.

Navy Commander Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, has said the rebels will be paid stipends of $250 to $400 per month, depending on their skills, performance and leadership.

It is not immediately clear how many Syrian rebels are currently being paid.

Another Pentagon official, Army Colonel Steve Warren, told Reuters that up to 200 Syrian fighters were undergoing training and a further 1,500 have completed the necessary screening.

Warren said some 6,000 Syrians have voluntarily participated in the US effort to train and equip a politically moderate Syrian military force.

The training program was delayed by several months as the effort took longer than expected due to complications finding and vetting fighters who will adhere to the laws of war and conduct themselves properly.

Navy Captain Scott Rye, a spokesman for the Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Syria, said a number of rebels had quit or been excluded, adding some showed up without ID papers and were underage or unfit for training.

The US government has already spent more than $2 billion on its campaign against ISIS since last year, according to Pentagon figures.

ISIS took control of northern Iraq and large portions of eastern Syria last summer, seizing key cities. Iraqi forces have succeeded in taking back some of them, including Tikrit, but were chased without a fight from Ramadi last month.

TRTWorld and agencies