A US official has said that the administration supported language in a Senate defense bill that would allow overt military training for the militants active in Syria.
“It’s my understanding that the administration does support the … language in the (defense bill) to authorize training and equipment of the moderate opposition,” Dana Shell Smith, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be ambassador to Qatar said during her Senate confirmation hearing.
Smith, currently a State Department senior adviser, was responding to a question about language included in the National Defense Authorization Act making its way through the Senate that would allow an overt, “Title 10” military training program for the Syrian opposition, led by US Special Operations forces.
According to recent press reports, the Obama administration has expressed interest in new efforts to exert additional pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and boost the foreign-backed insurgents in the country following major battlefield defeats they have suffered at the hands of Syrian army troops.
Officials then stated the US would send anti-tank rockets and humanitarian aid to the opposition, but noted MANPADs – portable missile-launchers – would not be part of the package, due to fears that they might end up in the hands of the growing number of extremist insurgents in Syria and potentially used to target commercial airliners.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside the country.