Tue Mar 3, 2015 4:47AM
The United States will make preparations to “protect” what it calls “moderate rebels” in Syria with air power in fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, says a top US official.
“It is clearly part of our plan, that not only we will train them, and we will equip them with the latest weapons systems, but we will also protect them when the time comes,” retired US general John Allen said on Monday.
Allen, who is President Barack Obama’s envoy for the coalition to counter ISIL, made the remarks at an event organized by the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington.
He added that his country is also considering whether the “moderate rebels” would fight without air cover or a no-fly zone.
Allen went on to say that the US plans to screen and train the militants and will continue to protect them so that they “have operational capability.”
The Obama administration has been urged by certain American lawmakers as well as some foreign governments to take more decisive measures against the Syrian government and to conduct airstrikes to support the militants in the country.
Last week, the US military said the initial training of the so-called moderate Syrian militants will likely begin in four to six weeks in Turkey as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Washington aims to train approximately 5,000 militants in 2015 for a total of nearly 15,000 over a period of three years.
Many of the militants described as moderate and trained by the CIA two years ago later joined the ISIL terrorists that now control parts of territory in Syria and Iraq.
The US and some of its allies have been conducting airstrikes against what they claim to be the ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria since last year.