by Karl Gotthardt, Digital Journal
April 25, 2013 (TSR) – The German news magazine Der Spiegel says the US is secretly training Syrian rebels in Jordan. This represents a shift in US policy.
The US as recently as last week said that it was strictly providing humanitarian and medical aid to Syria’s opposition.
The German news magazine says that the training has been underway secretly for three months and that Syrian rebels are being trained in the handling of modern anti-tank weapons with the aim of creating a battle ready force to oppose the Assad regime.
Although the Obama administration has supported the Syrian opposition for some time, it has never provided direct aid to the opposition.
The administration’s official line has been that it is providing aid for refugees and as late as this month Secretary of State announced assistance and funding for medical supplies for the Syrian rebels.
While it is not clear if the trainers are part of the US military, Spiegel reported that some of the trainers are in uniform.
Approximately 600 rebels of the Free Syrian Army (SFA) are to be trained over a period of 45 day in two camps in the east and south of Jordan.
According to Yahoo News, 200 rebels have been trained so far, with a goal of 1200.
The report says that British and French instructors are also participating in the training, in a US-led effort.
According to the Spiegel report Jordanian intelligence services are involved, with the aim of building 10,000 fighters around these trained forces, which intends to separate Islamic radicals from the SFA.
Although some weapons have already been released to the rebels, the majority of weapons, which include anti-tank and air defense weapons still remain in Jordan, as well as one hundred machine gun mounted pick up trucks.
The weapons have been funded by Saudi Arabia under the condition that the SFA units in Daraa agree on a common command structure. The majority of weapons come from Libya.
While Turkey and Qatar support the Muslim brotherhood, Jordan and Syria want to assert their influence on the SFA.
Despite the recent success of the Syrian rebels, the Assad regime and Assad himself have no intention of stepping down.
A million people have fled Syria and more than 7,000 have been killed.
First published in the Digital Journal.