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US official: No shortcuts in Syria rebel vetting

120510-D-NI589-335 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey answers a reporter's question as he and Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta hold a press conference in the Pentagon on May 10, 2012. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett (Released)

The top US military officer says no shortcuts will be made in screening Syrian rebel volunteers for a US training program, which is off to an extremely slow start.

Over 6,000 Syrians have volunteered to battle Islamic State militants, but fewer than 100 passed muster.

Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news conference today that while the US needs to develop a credible, moderate fighting partner on the ground in Syria, the vetting must be done carefully to weed out extremists.

Dempsey suggested that more credible volunteers may come forward after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is over in mid-July.

The training is being done in Jordan and Turkey. The US goal is to train and equip 5,400 rebels per year.