In a shift of US strategy in Syria, the Pentagon will press pause on its training program for Syrian rebel groups fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) forces and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The beleaguered program saw 200 fighters trained in total. The new strategy, approved by President Barack Obama, will provide direct aid and equipment to rebel units that are making strides against IS militants. The move comes as the Syrian rebel groups face a new foe: Russian airstrikes.
While President Vladimir Putin claims his country's missiles are targeting IS, myriad reports suggest otherwise. On Friday, Britain's UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, told reporters anyone looking at a map of their strikes can see that most "are against what we consider the moderate opposition to al-Assad, the very people that we need to be part of the future of Syria."
In a provocative piece in the journal "Foreign Affairs," dozens of experts were asked whether the United States should work with Russia in Syria (fighting IS militants). The responses were all over the map.
With files from the Associated Press.
Mohsen Milani, Professor of Politics, and the Executive Director of the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, University of South Florida
Mitchell Orenstein, Professor of Central and East European politics in the Slavic Department at University of Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia