Policy & Strategy

Pentagon denies training Syrian rebels in Jordan

But he said reports that American trainers are actively schooling Syrian rebel fighters in Jordan are false.

“The [White House] policy remains very clear,” Little said, referring to
the Obama administration’s ban on supplying arms to opposition forces.

{mosads}Little said the department has also not shipped any weapons to Syria’s neighboring countries, such as Jordan or Turkey, with the intent of moving those arms to anti-government forces battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Little’s comments ran counter to news reports on Monday that claimed American special operations forces have been actively training former members of the Syrian Army in Jordan for the past several months. 

Those former army members are not affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the largest and most organized of the rebel factions fighting Assad’s forces in the country, according to The Associated Press. 

Little said U.S. military trainers and advisers on the ground in Jordan are under orders to provide support to Amman only. 

“Our focus is training our Jordanian allies,” Little said. He did not comment on whether those Jordanian forces were taking that U.S. training and providing it to opposition fighters from Syria. 

That said, American military advisers are “working closely” with the Jordanian military to address a number of regional security concerns, including Syria, he said. 

On Syria, Pentagon officials and their counterparts in Amman are conducting “joint planning” to keep the war in Syria from coming into Jordan, according to Little. He declined to provide details on what that planning effort entailed. 

Earlier this year, NATO and the Pentagon agreed to deploy a battery of Patriot missile defense systems along the country’s shared border with Syria, in response to repeated incursions by Assad’s forces into Turkish territory. 

Pressure on the Obama administration to take a more active role in ending the Syrian conflict is reaching a fever pitch on Capitol Hill. 

Senate Armed Services Committee chief Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) officially broke ranks with the White House earlier this month, backing GOP demands that President Obama take military action to end the Syrian civil war. 

Levin and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to the White House urging Obama to consider “limited military options,” including airstrikes, to oust Assad from power.  

Levin and McCain also pressed the Obama administration to establish a “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border for refugees looking to escape the carnage.

Levin’s call for military action is a major shift. Previously, the influential Democrat had backed the administration’s strategy of using sanctions and diplomacy to end the conflict, which has now stretched into its third year. 

Tags Carl Levin John McCain
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video