US finalising Syrian opposition training programme

4 November 2014 (Last Updated November 4th, 2014 18:30)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is working with coalition partners to establish a programme to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to better fight Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is working with coalition partners to establish a programme to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to better fight Islamic State (IS) militants in the country.

Pentagon press secretary navy rear admiral John Kirby said the preparation of curriculum and training sites is underway and instructors are being lined up from the US and all nations from across the coalition.

"There's still some additional work that needs to be done," Kirby said.

"We're looking forward to getting this train and equip programme up and running."

"We're looking forward to getting this train and equip programme up and running, so that we can train a moderate opposition to better defend their citizens, their towns or villages, to go against ISIL (IS) and to work towards a settlement inside Syria."

The coalition is currently working to resolve a number of issues, including which nation will take the lead in vetting and training the forces, in addition to codifying the process by which opposition forces will be vetted.

When asked to comment on the recent clashes between opposition forces In Syria, Kirby said the fights are not helpful to the general security situation, but should not be considered a potential setback to the training plans.

He added: "We have seen violence between them before. We have seen territory swap and change hands before between al-Nusra and opposition groups. This is not a new phenomenon."

In September, the US Government approved a plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to defeat the threat posed by IS, which has seized large territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

Supported by its allies, including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, and the Netherlands, the US has been conducting air strikes against the terrorists in Iraq since August.

As part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US expanded its aerial campaign to Syria, in collaboration with Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, the following month.

Defence Technology