A Pentagon program to train Syrian rebels is aimed at creating the “federal reserve” of anti-ISIS fighters to counter the growing influence of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The plan, unveiled on Wednesday, is a response to President Donald Trump’s declaration in a speech last month that he was “open to training more moderate Syrian rebels.”
The White House did not say when the effort was originally announced, but Pentagon officials said they were “very pleased with the result.”
They said the plan will provide “federally-funded training and other support to support local rebel groups in the fight against the Islamic State.”
In addition to providing training in weapons and tactics, the Pentagon said it will also provide technical assistance to local rebels to prepare them to fight alongside the government.
The program will allow the rebels to receive support from U.N. peacekeepers in the Middle East, the officials said.
It is expected to take three years to complete.
The White Senate and House are also expected to vote this week on a measure that would expand the program to include more countries.
The bill would also extend the program by four months, which would allow it to be fully rolled out by the end of the year.
The Pentagon previously said it would start training Syrian rebels in February.
The House Armed Services Committee is also considering a measure in which lawmakers would require the Pentagon to make a decision by July on whether to expand the training program to Turkey.