Report: West training Syrian rebels

March 9, 2013 at 11:51 AM
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LONDON, March 9 (UPI) -- The United States and its allies are training rebels in an effort to bring the fighting in Syria to a close, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.

Citing sources, the newspaper said Saturday U.S., French and British troops and intelligence operatives are providing the training in Jordan. The goal is to improve the capabilities of secular Syrian fighters and head off the potential dominance of Muslim extremist factions, the report said.

Trainees include a number of senior Syrian military officers who defected to the rebels.

"It's the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected, but we're not talking about a huge operation," a Jordanian security source told the newspaper.

The newly trained rebels have not been deployed back to Syria. The plan appears to hinge on conditions in the southern city of Daraa, where analysts expect the collapse of government services would trigger a mass exodus of refugees into Jordan.

Establishing an effective secular presence in the area to maintain order would both keep civilians inside Syria and block any move by radical forces, including al-Qaida, to set up shop so close to Jordan, the report said.

"At some point (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is going to fall, and the opposition are going to need help to provide governance in areas they control, and that of course includes security," a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office told The Guardian. "But security doesn't just mean fighting, it also means basic law and order, and policing."

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