The U.S. government is finalizing a plan to increase training and small-arms shipments for Syrian rebels, two U.S. security sources said on Friday, as Syrian government troops gain momentum following the collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks.
More non-lethal small-arms aid.
The United States would increase assistance and send the shipments to moderate rebel factions mostly based in Jordan, along Syria’s southern border, the officials familiar with the plan told Reuters.
The additional supplies are likely to be modest and will not include surface-to-air missiles, the officials said, raising questions over the impact in a civil war that has killed an estimated 136,000 people, produced nine million refugees and threatens to destabilize the region.
If they are specifically saying they won’t send surface-to-air missiles they probably will or are doing so already. (see video below)
Rebels have urged the Obama administration to provide advanced weapons including surface-to-air missiles and exert greater military pressure on Russia-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has intensified bombings of rebel neighborhoods in recent month.
But the United States fears supplies of advanced weapons to pro-Western rebels could be diverted to Islamic militant groups, who could use them to attack allied, Israeli or civilian aircraft, the U.S. officials said, explaining why the surface-to-air missiles won’t be included in the assistance.
President Barack Obama has resisted becoming entangled in Syria’s complex, two-year civil war, but has faced criticism for failing to take a tougher stand given the immensity of the humanitarian crisis.
He’s wasted more than $1 billion of U.S. taxpayer dollars as well as funding and training jihadists – we’re already entangled.
The assistance does not require additional funding from Congress, said the officials, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak with the media.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment.