UK to resume militant training in Syria: Defense minister
Iran Press TV
Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:29AM
UK Minister of Defense Michael Fallon says British special forces will soon resume training "moderate" militants in Syria to bolster the fight against the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri group.
Fallon made the announcement on Tuesday, before meeting with defense ministers from a US-led coalition which has been striking purported Daesh positions in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
"Daesh are on the back foot. The RAF [Royal Air Force] is already playing a leading role in the air, hitting them hard in Iraq and Syria," the top military official said.
"Now we're stepping up our support to moderate opposition forces in Syria, through training them in the skills they need to defeat Daesh," he added.
Under the new program, Fallon said the Defense Ministry would send 20 more of its personnel to the Middle East "to provide vetted members of the moderate Syrian opposition with the skills they need."
Britain's decision came in response to a request by the US, according to The Independent. British and American military forces had carried out similar militant training programs in Jordan.
The new effort would be an extension of an expensive program by the Pentagon that was supposed to "train and equip" up to 5,000 militants every year. However, it was discontinued in November last year, after failing to attract enough volunteers.
The $500 million program's few trainees were no good as most of them either deserted or surrendered their arms to other terror groups.
This time, however, Fallon said "strict vetting procedures" were awaiting the trainees in order to prevent similar problems.
"Trainees will be security and medically screened prior to the start of the training and will be assessed during and monitored after the training," he noted.
The UK's Special Air Service (SAS) forces have reportedly played a role in selecting the new recruitment.
The efforts to promote militancy in Syria come at a time when the West, mainly the US and the UK, have come under fire for openly seeking to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power.
Russia, which has been pounding Daesh across Syria upon a request from Damascus, says the Western-trained militants' only use is to oust Assad.
Syria has been grappling with foreign-backed militancy since 2011. The conflict has killed more than 400,000 Syrians, according to UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.
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