US troops may soon train, equip FSA militants in Syria

US troops may soon train, equip FSA militants in Syria
Wed May 28, 2014 09:51:08

President Barack Obama may soon sign off on a project to train and equip pro-West militant in Syrian, in an open move that would significantly boost US support to insurgents who have been asking for three years for military help in their quest to oust President Bashar Assad, US administration officials says.

The step would send a limited number of American troops to Jordan to be part of a regional training mission that would instruct carefully vetted members of the so-called Free Syrian Army on tactics, including counterterrorism operations, the officials said. They said Obama has not yet given approval for the initiative, and that there is still internal discussion about its merits and potential risks, AP reported.

In a foreign policy speech on Wednesday to the US Military Academy, Obama is expected to frame Syria as a counterterrorism challenge and indicate that he will expand assistance to the opposition, according to the officials. However, he is not likely to announce the specific program, which is still being finalized, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss administration deliberations.

The State Department, Pentagon, intelligence community, along with many in Congress who back the move, have concluded that Assad will not budge without a change in the military situation on the ground, according to the officials. At the same time, there are growing fears about the threat posed by al-Qaeda-linked and inspired extremists fighting in Syria, the officials said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week passed a defense bill that authorizes the Defense Department to provide training and equipment to vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.

The US already has covert support operations in place for the Syrian opposition, and it is not yet clear how the new program would work. The United States has spent $287 million so far in nonlethal aid on Syria's war, now in its fourth year.

The State Department on Tuesday declined to comment on the proposed train and equip program, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki, however, told reporters that an array of options to support pro-West militants remains under consideration.


string(1060) "[{"id":"1597605","sort":"3209762","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/26/alalam_635367363470270487_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Syria expels Jordan’s envoy in tit-for-tat move"} ,{"id":"1597606","sort":"3209763","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/26/alalam_635367341303628301_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"British militants, the most bloodthirsty in Syria"} ,{"id":"1597703","sort":"3209764","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/27/alalam_635367733289349717_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Syria rebel rockets hit Lebanon’s Bekaa"} ,{"id":"1597871","sort":"3209765","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/27/alalam_635368160660525990_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Former French FM slams Paris over Syria policies"} ,{"id":"1597940","sort":"3209766","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/28/alalam_635368599947083980_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Senior Hezbollah commander martyred in Syria battle"} ,{"id":"1597946","sort":"3209767","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/05/28/alalam_635368608631454493_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"US denies okaying delivery of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria militants"} ]"