Jul 17 2014
US officials say they plan to train a small unit of Syrian rebels – about 2,300 – in the latest effort at toppling President Bashar Al Assad. Assad, who was just sworn in for a third term, has remained strong in the face of a multi year bloody civil war.
President Obama has requested authorization for $500 million for the training program which apparently won’t begin until next year. According to anonymous US officials speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the rebels will be vetted to weed out extremist militants.
The training itself would take place in one of a number of regional countries such as Saudi Arabia or Jordan. So far the US says it has only aided rebels with so-called “non-lethal” aid. The UN Security Council this week also approved of delivering emergency aid to Syrian rebels, in a unanimous vote.
Complicating the situation is the militant Sunni group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), which has taken over parts of neighboring Iraq. ISIS has also taken over parts of Eastern Syria and has been dominating the opposition against Assad.
Syrian state media reported that earlier this month rebel groups entered the town of Hama and massacred 14 people including 7 women. The attack was corroborated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in the UK.
GUEST: Reese Erlich, independent journalist and foreign correspondent and author of a number of books including Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire, and Inside Syria: the backstory of their civil war and what the world can expect,” published by Prometheus Books and distributed by Random House.
Reese Erlich will be speaking in Berkeley on Thursday, October 9, 2014 from 7:30pm – 9:30pm at an event sponsored by KPFA. Click here for more details.
Erlich will also be speaking in Los Angeles some time later this year.