Syrian opp withdraw from US 'Train and Equip' Program

Dozens of fighters have withdrawn from the Pentagon training program in Turkey and Jordan after being forced to sign contract vowing not to attack Assad forces

Syrian opp withdraw from US 'Train and Equip' Program

World Bulletin / News Desk

Western diplomatic sources have confirmed that dozens of “moderate opposition” have withdrawn from the controversial train and equip program after they refused to sign a contract guaranteeing that they would not fight against the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, regional and Western countries are seeking to persuade the Obama administration to provide political mandate to the international coalition jet fighters to support the opposition fighters against ISIL.

US Congress approved a three-year plan with a $500 million USD annual budget for training and arming 5,000 fighters annually to achieve three  main goals; fighting ISIL, defending the areas controlled by the "moderate" opposition, and pushing towards a political solution in Syria. Congress also agreed to set up four training camps, including two in Jordan and Turkey.

Sources say that there are  6,000 fighters who had applied to join the Pentagon program, supervised by Gen. Michael Nagata, in parallel with a secret CIA program to train and equip opposition fighters.

 Approximately 2,500 fighters have passed the first phase of testing, with only 1,500 of them chosen to continue training. The sources noted that about 200 fighters arrived in two training camps in Jordan and Turkey, "but only around 50 of them remained in the program after the rest refused to sign a paper containing a pledge not to fight regime forces, or because their names did not match the names registered in the preliminary lists, meaning only dozens of fighters received training in the camp in southern Turkey".

A report by Agence France Presse said that Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Steve Warren that goal is to train 5,000 fighters per year, only "a hundred or two" Syrians began training in the two camps in Jordan and Turkey. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told Congress on Wednesday that it is “very difficult” to identify fighters who meet the specified criteria.

There have also been other operational obstacles. Sources claim Ankara believes the US aims to train the fighters only against ISIL, at the expense of fighting the Syrian regime, stating: "it was clear from the very beginning that the task of these Syrian fighters is to fight ISIS at the moment".

Turkey and Western countries have attempted to convince Washington to broaden the mission of the international coalition fighter jets to provide air protection to opposition fighters, however up to now the Obama administration has refused to approve any step that may harm Iranian interests or the current nuclear negotiations deal.

Coalition warplanes struck ISIL locations in Izaz Soran in the countryside of Aleppo last week, which ultimately strengthened the position of the Syrian opposition fighters, the first step of its kind since the commencement of the coalition raids last September


Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Haziran 2015, 13:25