400 US Troops to Train Syrian Opposition

The U.S. will deploy about 400 troops and hundreds of U.S. support personnel to train the moderate Syrian opposition as part of a greater effort to defeat the Islamic State militants who have taken control of parts of Syria and Iraq, defense officials said Thursday. Training is expected to begin in early spring at sites in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. Officials have not clarified which services would provide the troops but coalition partners are also expected to send forces for the training initiative, according to Defense One, which first reported the announcement. Last month, President Obama signed a defense bill that outlined a plan to fight the Islamic State through airstrikes and also training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels fighting the militants. Obama has also authorized more than 3,000 U.S. forces to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling extremists.