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Saudi Arabia agrees to U.S. request, will train moderate Syrian rebels

Saudi Arabia has agreed to host a training camp for moderate Syrian rebels in response to a request from the U.S.

By JC Finley
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Saudi Arabia agrees to U.S. request, will train moderate Syrian rebels
Free Syrian Army soldiers clash with Syrian government forces in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria. FILE/UPI | License Photo

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- In response to a request by the United States, Saudi Arabia has agreed to host an anti-Islamic State training program for moderate Syrian opposition fighters.

"We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort -- the train-and-equip program -- to host that program," an unidentified senior Obama Administration official told the New York Times on Wednesday.

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U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the proposed program with Saudi King Abdullah, with both leaders agreeing "on the need for increased training and equipping of the moderate Syrian opposition."

The Syrian Opposition Coalition welcomed Obama's newly unveiled four-part strategy to "degrade, and ultimately defeat" the Islamic State.

Secretary of State John Kerry was in Saudi Arabia on Thursday to confer with Abdullah and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal about training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels and to ask Arab officials gathered at a counter-terrorism conference to take specific steps to counter the Islamic State.

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