For months now, the U.S. has been training secular Syrian fighters in Jordan with the goal of bolstering the array of forces battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime,while at the same time strengthening the hand of moderates among the country’s fractured opposition, said American and foreign officials. Taking place since late last year at an unspecified location, it has concentrated largely on Sunnis and tribal Bedouins who formerly served as members of the Syrian army, officials told The Associated Press. The forces aren’t members of the leading rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, they said. Officials said the operation is being run by U.S. intelligence. But those in Washington stressed the U.S. was only providing nonlethal aid, stopping short of a step that is being increasingly advocated by lawmakers in Congress but which the Obama administration opposes.
Others such as Britain and France are involved, officials added, though it’s unclear whether any Western government is providing materiel or other direct military support.“That is something we’re going to continue to work to bring to an end” he told reporters.
It’s unclear what effect the training has had in the conflict. Some of the Syrians the U.S. is involved with are in turn training others in the country, officials said.
The training in Jordan, however, suggests the U.S. help is aimed somewhat at enhancing the rebels’ capacity in southern Syria, the birthplace of the revolution two years ago. — AP