US, Jordan step up training of Syrian rebels
The Washington Post has cited US and Jordanian officials as saying Syrian rebels may be used to set up a buffer zone along Syria’s southern border. A buffer zone could be used to create durable safe havens for Syrian army defectors, the paper stresses.
According to Jordan’s security officials, the previous schedule to complete training of some 3,000 Free Syrian Army officers by the end of June has been moved up to the end of this month following opposition’s border victories.
Two years after the start of the Syrian war, the international community has been struggling to map out an effective strategy Western and Middle Eastern governments could agree on, while the crisis appears to be spinning beyond their ability to influence it.
However, Washington Post sources cited growing concern that moderate rebel forces might be overtaken by extremist Islamic fighters, who have gained the upper hand in northern areas under rebel control.
A US diplomat in Jordan said: “The last thing anyone wants to see is al-Qaeda gaining a foothold in southern Syria next to Israel. That is a doomsday scenario.”
Regional governments fear that the Syrian conflict may soon spill over into neighbouring countries. “Buffer zones on the Syrian side of the border is the only way to keep the conflict away from Jordan,” said Mahmoud Irdaisat, head of the Amman-based Center for Strategic Studies.
The White House has so far refused to comment on allegations it is training Syrian rebels.
Voice of Russia, Washington Post