WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- An official with U.S. Central Command has revised the official size of the New Syrian Forces from "four or five" to nine, effectively doubling the size of the fighting force.
The Pentagon-backed program aims to arm Syrian rebels to push back the Islamic State, which is also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. CENTCOM commander Gen. Lloyd Austin stunned lawmakers earlier this week when he reported the small number to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Despite the drastically lower-than-expected turnout, officials say more fighters are on the way. The goal was to create a U.S. trained force 5,000 strong by the end of 2015.