Report: CIA Ramping Up Covert Training Program for Syrian Rebels

syrian_rebels10/3/13. Report: CIA Ramping Up Covert Training Program for Syrian Rebels. Billy Hallowell, Theblaze.

“As the bloody Syrian conflict continues, a new report claims that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is expanding efforts to train rebel fighters. 

The development comes as concerns abound over radical Islamists taking a bigger role in framing and guiding the opposition. All elements considered, officials reportedly fear that moderate rebels could be losing ground in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

While the CIA has already been making moves to train rebels, it seems the program has had its limitations. Even after the plan is enlarged, it may only produce a few hundred fighters each month, which may not be enough to combat the thousands of fighters emerging from more radical world views.

Here’s how a new report in The Washington Post describes the difficult scenario on the ground:

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the agency has sent additional paramilitary teams to secret bases in Jordan in recent weeks in a push to double the number of rebel fighters getting CIA instruction and weapons before being sent back to Syria.

The agency has trained fewer than 1,000 rebel fighters this year, current and former U.S. officials said. By contrast, U.S. intelligence analysts estimate that more than 20,000 have been trained to fight for government-backed militias by Assad’s ally Iran and the Hezbollah militant network it sponsors.

The CIA has declined to comment about the new-found plans, but an official told the outlet that the U.S. government is “ramping up and expanding its effort” after it has become clear that moderate rebels have been severely weakened by radical factions and ever-resilient Assad forces.

Under the CIA program, which is based in Jordan, moderate rebels are being given “basic infantry training” that generally spans a four-to-six week period. According to the Post, it is aimed at helping shore up support for the Supreme Military Council, an umbrella group that receives U.S. support.

Concerns over Islamist forces have expanded in recent weeks, despite U.S. proclamations that the vast majority of rebel fighters are moderates. Last month, TheBlaze provided an extensive overview of how the situation could impact Syrian Christians living in the war-torn country, explicitly highlighting the fact that radical Islamists have a presence in the region.

As the Post notes, last month, 11 of the largest fighter groups came together to form an alliance with one, key goal: Creating an Islamic state. The report that the CIA is ramping up its efforts will certainly lead some to look deeper at these claims.”

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