Hundreds of U.S. troops to deploy to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels

Posted at 6:31 AM, Jan 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-16 06:31:42-05

(CNN) — The U.S. military will deploy 400 trainers and hundreds more troops in a train-and-equip mission for Syrian rebel forces, the Pentagon said Friday.

This is part of an Obama administration plan to expand training for factions of moderate Syrian rebels.

Those groups are battling forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and extremist groups like ISIS, as well as others linked to al Qaeda.

The mission would be led by the military and complement a modest training CIA program, based on what was authorized by the White House more than a year ago.

“There is growing recognition that the Assad regime is an enabler of extremism,” Oubai Shahbandar, an adviser to the Syrian Opposition Council, said in May.

“The decision to expand support to opposition forces to include an expanded American training program for the moderate Free Syrian Army reflects positively on the growing strategic cooperation between the U.S. and the Syrian opposition,” Shahbander said.