Pentagon ends $500 Million effort to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has ended the $500 million effort to train and equip Syrian rebels, officials said Friday.

The program, which produced only a handful of trained Syrian rebels, has drawn sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle.

In her September 20 appearance on Face the Nation, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an early advocate of training and equipping the moderate Syrian rebels, took aim at the unsuccessful program.

"Where we are today is that we have a failed program. You heard the testimony. Five people trained for...$500 million, half a billion dollars," she told John Dickerson.

But the presidential hopeful also said that it wasn't time to give up on the effort.

"I wouldn't give up on train and equip, but I sure would push the Pentagon to take hard look why what has been done has been such a failure and what more we could do to support, like, Kurdish fighters who are on the front lines," she said.

"And one of the difficulties we had in the train and equip is that we basically were trying to train people to only take on ISIS and terrorist networks. We were not training and equipping them to take on Assad or his military or his proxies, which include Hezbollah, by the way," she added.

At the time of our interview, Russia was in the early stages of their growing military intervention, amassing equipment in Syria, but had not yet launched airstrikes.