Washington, May 8:
US has announced that its troops will begin training moderate Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation.
However, defence secretary Ashton Carter did not specify where the training programme was being conducted, it was expected that Jordan is the country that is hosting the first rebel fighters selected by the US to form part of the force that will fight the Sunni extremists with the IS, reports Efe.
Carter announced at a Pentagon press conference that the training had begun with a contingent of about 90 rebel soldiers and that a second group will join the program in “a few weeks.”
Several hundred US military experts are — or soon will be — training the Syrian rebels in the use of weaponry, communications and operational command and control.
The Pentagon hope that the first fully trained rebel troops can begin operating in Syrian territory “in a few months” and that the programme will be progressively broadened.
Carter said that first the rebels were recruited, then they were selected for the programme and now they have entered the training phase.
It is not known whether rebels trained by the US, who since the start of the Syrian civil war have been fighting against the regime of President Bashar al Assad, will focus only on fighting the militants.
Carter said that the main target of the rebel units trained by the US will be the IS, which occupies significant portions of eastern Syria.
But if they are attacked by Assad’s forces, “we will protect them,” the Pentagon chief said later.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, acknowledged that at present a weak Assad regime in Damascus would make the situation in Syria more complicated since it would allow the country to slide further into chaos, but it would not change US efforts to eliminate the IS.
The White House’s initial plan was to be able to train a total of 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels. (IANS)