Free Syrian Army fighter in Deraa 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Abu Salah/Shaam News Network/Handout v)
The CIA has been expanding a covert program to train US-backed opposition
fighters in Syria, The Washington Post on Thursday cited US officials as
According to the report, the agency was expected to train only “a
few hundred” moderate fighters each month following the expansion of the
program. The official told the Post that the limited number of CIA-trained
fighters would not be enough to overcome Islamic extremist rebels who are also
fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
impact of the clandestine program allows the CIA to provide enough backing to
the moderates to ensure they don’t lose in the civil war, but not enough for
them to hail an overall victory, the Post cited the officials as
Such restraints on the agency’s authorities stem from the US
desire to see a political resolution in Syria, which requires a stalemate among
opposition rebel groups, the report said.
The anonymous US sources said
that the CIA, in recent weeks, has sent surplus paramilitary teams to a covert
Jordanian base in attempts to double the number of moderate rebel fighters
receiving training and arms from the agency before returning to
Syria.Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage
Fewer than 1,000 opposition fighters received training from the
agency this year, the report cited current and former US official as
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Meanwhile, Assad allies Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have
reportedly trained more than 20,000 guerrillas to fight for pro-government
forces, the Post cited US intelligence analysts as estimating.In June,
the Los Angeles Times reported
that CIA operatives and American
special-operations units have been training Free Syrian Army soldiers with
anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since late 2012.
reported that the training took place at secret bases in Jordan and
So far, the Obama administration has been hesitant to sanction
large-scale military aid to the rebels for fear that the arms could end up in
the hands of the radical Islamists.
On Thursday, several powerful Syrian
rebel groups demanded al-Qaida-linked militants and a rival rebel faction stop
fighting and called on the hardline Islamists to withdraw their forces within 48
hours, a statement said.
The al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant (ISIL) seized Azaz, about 5 km. from the frontier with Turkey,
last month and has repeatedly clashed with the local Northern Storm brigade
A previous attempt by rebel groups to broker a truce between
the two sides did not hold.
The fighting prompted Turkey to close its
border crossing, a lifeline for Syria’s rebel-held northern areas because it let
refugees out and supplies like food and building materials in.
statement posted online by four rebel brigades on Thursday called for an
“immediate cease-fire” between the two sides and called on them to submit their
dispute to an Islamic court in Aleppo, about 30 km. to the south.
our brothers in the faction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to
withdraw their forces and equipment to their essential bases immediately,” said
the statement. “We consider them above spilling the blood of Muslims or rushing
to describe them as infidels and apostates.”
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