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Pentagon Suspends Syrian Rebel Training Program Amid Criticism

The Pentagon has suspended a program bringing moderate rebels from Syria to participate in U.S. training programs in Turkey and Jordan.

The $500 million training mission, aimed at readying rebels to fight Islamic State militants in Syria, came under fire in Congress after it got off to a disastrous start. It also was mocked this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who advocates bolstering the Syrian government to fight IS.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said on September 29 that the entire program is "under review," though U.S. forces are still recruiting for the program.

"As we review the program, we have paused the actual movement of new recruits from Syria," he said.

"We also continue to provide support for current forces on the ground and to train the cohorts currently in the program."

The program's first graduates were attacked earlier this year by Al-Qaeda's local franchise, the Al-Nusra Front, and fell apart.

Then last week, the Pentagon admitted that a second group of around 70 fighters had given equipment and ammunition to Al-Nusra -- purportedly in exchange for safe passage.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters