Last week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama's critics need to answer for the failure of training and equipping rebels in Syria. On Sunday, Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed Obama — although not by name — for not taking her advice early on.
On CBS's Face the Nation , the Democratic presidential front-runner was asked by host John Dickerson about the fact only a handful of trained Syrian rebels were in the fight as of last week and whether the problems were with the policy or the implementation. Clinton made clear that Obama didn't follow her recommendations as then-secretary of State to arm the rebels early on in the conflict, as well as doing more to help the Kurds. She acknowledged the training program started later on by Obama was a failure. From the transcript:
"Well, John, I did recommend that, at the beginning of this conflict, we do more to help train those who were in the forefront of leading the opposition against Assad, looking to try to bring the moderates together. A lot of these rebels, originally, they were — they were businesspeople, they were professional people, they were students. They had no training in going up against the Syrian army, which Assad clearly was going to use to the ultimate effect. That was not the decision taken at that time. A lot of what I worried about has happened. There are now big ungoverned territories within Syria that are dominated by terrorist groups, ISIS being the best known, but not the only one. You have Iran and Russia increasingly moving in to support Assad and his constant bombardment against his own people. And then you have these millions of refugees. So, where we are today is not where we were. And where we are today is that we have a failed program. You heard the testimony, five people trained for half — $500, half-a-billion dollars. But I think we still have to keep working with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with others of our partners. We also have to do more to support the Kurds, something that I have also advocated."Last week, Earnest said the president had been skeptical all along about the training mission that had been advocated by hawks on Syria. And while the United States is again looking to Russia to help try and find a diplomatic solution to the mess, Earnest couldn't offer up any confidence or assurance that Assad will leave office before Obama does — years after the president said he must go.
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