"On January 16, [US Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel authorized the initial contingent of trainers and enablers to begin establishing the training sites for the program to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition," Cmdr. Smith said Wednesday.
"The first advance detachment has begun to arrive in the region. We expect the next wave of several hundred of the trainers and enablers to be deployed in the next few weeks. The Department of Defense is continuing to move forward with our program to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition," the spokeswoman added.
The training scheme is part of US President Barack Obama's plan to roll back fighters from the Islamic State (IS), a an extremist group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has ceased vast territories in Iraq and Syria.
Obama announced the establishment of an anti-IS coalition in September of last year, claiming that the extremists can be eradicated with airstrikes and promising to arm Kurds, Iraqis and "moderate" Syrian opposition who would fight IS militants on the ground.
The coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq and Syria, however, critics say that its efforts are over-dependent on air power and offer no solution to Syria's ongoing civil war.