Obama close to authorizing military training of Syrian rebels

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama is close to authorizing a mission led by the U.S. military to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad and al Qaeda-linked groups, a move that would expand Washington’s role in the conflict, U.S. officials said.

A new military training program, if implemented, would supplement a small train-and-equip program led by the Central Intelligence Agency which Mr. Obama authorized a year ago.

U.S. officials said the new military program would represent a significant expansion of Washington’s public efforts. U.S. officials don’t discuss the CIA’s limited training program because it is covert.

In a commencement address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, Mr. Obama will signal backing for the new training effort by saying he intends to increase support to the armed Syrian opposition, including by providing them with training. Mr. Obama isn’t expected to provide details about how, or where, that training would be accomplished.

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