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US to Simultaneously Train Iraqi Forces, Free Syrian Elements

RIA Novosti

02:20 16/10/2014

WASHINGTON, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The United States will simultaneously be training the Iraqi forces and the free Syrian opposition, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Islamic State said.

'ISIL has made some substantial gains in Iraq, and the intent at this juncture is to take those steps that are necessary with the forces that we have available and the air power that we have at our fingertips to buy the white space, necessary for what comes next, which is the training program for those elements of the Iraqi national security forces,' John Allen said during the press briefing on Wednesday, adding that the US is going to be undertaking the training and equipping program for the free Syrian elements at the same time.

'We have the capacity to do both, and there is significant coalition interest in participating in both,' he underlined, noting that some partners will be interested in providing what they call building partner capacity.

'So helping to refurbish the Iraqi Security Forces – and we'll have some partners that will be interested in security sector reform, which will be to assist the ministries in becoming more effective in supporting their operating forces in the field,' he explained.

'But we'll also have partners that are interested in participating in the development of the free Syrian echelons that are going to be trained in the training camps also in the region,' Allen said, adding that this two processes can occur simultaneously. ' It doesn't have to be sequential,' he concluded.

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the extremist group expanded its attacks to northern and western Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories that had fallen under its control.

A US-led coalition is currently carrying out airstrikes against the IS targets in Syria and Iraq. The coalition is comprised of more than 60 countries, according to the State Department.

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