U.S. soldiers instruct Iraqi security forces on defensive tactics at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, on March 26.

U.S. soldiers instruct Iraqi security forces on defensive tactics at Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq, on March 26. Sgt. Deja Borden/DOD

U.S. Starts Training Moderate Syrian Rebels

The U.S. military will help Syrian rebel forces fight ISIS, but what happens if they come across military loyal to Bashar al-Assad?

The American military will support moderate Syrian rebels fighting against Islamic State militants, but it has not been decided how the U.S. will back them up if these fighters come into contact with troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We have not decided yet in detail how we would exercise that responsibility, but we have acknowledged that we have that responsibility,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

The U.S. is training 90 Syrian opposition fighters with hopes of expanding the program “once it proves itself,” Carter announced at the Pentagon Thursday. Carter called the trainees “highly vetted individuals” when asked about the possibility of these fighters turning on their teachers, similar to what has happened over the years in Afghanistan.

“[O]ur people who are participating in the training are very experienced in this kind of training, including in security procedures,” Carter said.

So far, the U.S. is only supplying the moderate Syrian rebels with small arms. He expects American forces also will support Syrian rebels with intelligence. “There's a limit to the kind of sophistication of arms that troops trained in this way will be provided with,” Carter said.

Carter said the moderate Syrian rebels would be battle ready in “a few months.

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