CIA Training Syria Rebels: Report

LA Times says secret work started last year

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 21, 2013 5:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – The White House may be moving too slowly in the eyes of some critics when it comes to helping the Syrian opposition, but the CIA and special ops forces have been at it since late last year, reports the Los Angeles Times. It says the Americans have been secretly training select Syrian rebels with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry at US military bases in Turkey and Jordan. (They're not providing those weapons to the rebels, just training in how to use them.)

“Those from the CIA, we would sit and talk with them during breaks from training and afterward, they would try to get information on the situation inside” Syria, a rebel commander tells the newspaper. Also of note: The training involves Russian-designed weapons, even as the US and Russia are on opposite sides of the spectrum on how to deal with Bashar al-Assad. The rebels might appreciate the training, but what they really need is large-scale weapons to "tip the balance" of war in their favor, says the rebel commander. (President Obama recently gave the green light to send light arms and ammunition.)

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes with government forces near Damascus on June 20.
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes with government forces near Damascus on June 20.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
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