Muhammed Muheisen, File, Associated Press
In this Dec. 17, 2012, file photo, Syrian rebels attend a training session in Maaret Ikhwan near Idlib, Syria. Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year. The training effort is moving so slowly that critics question whether it can produce enough capable fighters quickly enough to make a difference. Military officials said this past week that they still hope for 3,000 by year’s end. Privately, they acknowledge the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

WASHINGTON — Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group — just a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year.

Critics question whether it can produce enough capable fighters quickly enough to make a difference.

Military officials still hope for 3,000 by year's end. Privately, they acknowledge the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

The main problem has been finding enough Syrian recruits untainted by extremist affiliations or disqualified by physical or other flaws.

That program, together with a more advanced but also troubled parallel effort to rebuild the Iraqi army, is central to the U.S.-led effort to create ground forces capable of fighting IS without involving U.S. ground combat troops.