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AFP Photo / Wakil Kohsar

The US military has announced it will send about 400 specialists and hundreds more “enabling forces” to train the rebel Syrian opposition as Washington takes its fight against the Assad government and Islamic State to a new level.

The Pentagon mission, expected to begin as early as March, envisions US specialists training Syrian opposition forces from military bases in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman, was quoted by the Army Times as saying.

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In addition to the 400 military specialists, so-called “enabling forces,” which are to serve as a security detail, will also accompany the trainers, Smith said. 

The US-led coalition, which began its bombing campaign over Syrian territory against the jihadist forces of Islamic State [also known as ISIS, or ISIL] in September 2014, includes Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Arab states will be expected to contribute troops to the US operation, which expects to train about 5,400 rebel forces each year for three years, according to Defense One, which first broke the news on the number of US specialists preparing for deployment. 

At least four training sites among the coalition countries will be selected to host the US specialists for what is anticipated to be a six- to eight-week rotation, Defense One reported.

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Reuters / Hosam Katan

News of the Pentagon’s mission to train Syrian rebels, some of whom are reported to be affiliated with terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda, has already attracted criticism from those who say the US military offensive against Islamic State forces in Syria, carried out without the consent of Damascus, is a thinly veiled effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. 

In September 2013, shortly after UK Prime Minister David Cameron failed to secure support in the House of Commons to participate in a US-led military strike against Syria, forces from Islamic State suddenly appeared on the scene, giving the US a pretext for entering Syria.

Written by RT News
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