WASHINGTON – The Pentagon says U.S. efforts to train Iraqi forces and moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants are moving forward, but that insurgents still control about 21,000 square miles of Iraq.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, says about 270 square miles in Iraq have been regained from militants in the past six months, mostly by Kurdish forces in the north. He says control of land will continually change over time, and it will be a long struggle.
Kirby says training has begun in all four planned sites in Iraq. He says an advance team of fewer than 100 U.S. troops will soon head to training sites in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to begin preparations for the Syrian rebel training. Trainers will deploy in the coming weeks.