US Finalizing Plan to Boost Support for Syrian Armed Groups
The US government is finalizing a plan to increase training and small-arms shipments for Syrian militants, two US security sources said on Friday, as Syrian government troops gain momentum over armed groups.
The United States would increase assistance and send the shipments to armed groups factions mostly based in Jordan, along Syria's southern border, the officials familiar with the plan told Reuters.
According to the agencies, the additional supplies will not include surface-to-air missiles, the officials said.
Armed groups have urged the Obama administration to provide advanced weapons including surface-to-air missiles and exert greater military pressure on the Syrian army, who has intensified bombings of armed groups neighborhoods in recent month.
Details of how much aid will flow to the screened armed groups are the subject of continuing discussions. It's also unclear, for instance, how much would be covert or whether there would be a US military or special forces role.
US allies, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have provided weaponry to various armed groups factions during the conflict.
The assistance does not require additional funding from Congress, said the officials, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak with the media.
"Now we have to finalize the plans," one official said.
For his part, US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment.
A former government official familiar with the plan said that training would be done in small tranches and that US allies, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and France, are likely to participate.
The sources said that the Obama administration accepts that the plan will not turn the tide of the conflict decisively against the Syrian army.
US and European officials say the most powerful anti-Assad factions are militant groups such as the al-Nusra Front and the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant".
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team