US Special Forces to be among trainers for Syrian rebels, says Pentagon
U.S. Special forces troops will be among the hundreds of U.S. trainers who will train Syrian opposition forces, the Pentagon said Friday.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have agreed on the sites of an equip and train program for the Syrian opposition and approximately 400 U.S. trainers will take part in the program.
“I think you’ll start to see orders for some of those troops over the next four to six weeks. Some could be given orders very soon, perhaps as soon as within the next week or so. But they’ll flow in, I think, over the next four to six week,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby updated reporters during a daily press briefing.
Earlier Friday, a Defense Department spokeswoman said that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed on the sites of an equip and train program of the Syrian opposition and approximately 400 U.S. trainers will take part in the program.
Kirby also said that some of the trainers will be special operations forces as well as some conventional forces to be applied to the mission.
He noted that if the training starts in March, some opposition groups could return to Syria and get back to the fight before the end of the year.
Kirby also added that some other coalition partner countries may send trainers which “could be in hundreds.”
Responding to a question on inside attackers Kirby said, “There is going to be a significant vetting program in place, multi-layered, and one that is implemented over the course of the training to make sure that we’re dealing with individuals and with units that are trustworthy.”
Training is expected to begin in early spring, Defense Department spokeswoman Elissa Smith told The Anadolu Agency, adding that the number of trainers could fluctuate based on “course load, course requirements and other variables.”
The effort to train Syrian opposition groups is part of an overall campaign to defeat ISIL militants who have seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have agreed to help the opposition groups not only fight ISIL but to also battle the regime of Bashar al Assad.
The U.S. is involved in a plan to train moderate rebels and to train and assist Iraqi security forces in order to beat back ISIL militants’ rampage in both countries.
More than 2,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq to train security forces there since August.
President Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of up to 3,000 troops to the country.