US gears up to train ‘moderate’ rebels for fighting Islamic State in Syria

Members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front drive in a convoy as they tour villages, which they said they have seized control of from Syrian rebel factions, in the southern countryside of Idlib, December 2, 2014. Reuters

(Reuters) – The United States is creating a vigorous vetting process to weed out undesirables among the Syrian rebels it will train to fight Islamic State, but some of the new recruits will be familiar faces requiring far more limited screening.

The program is expected to include a number of fighters already known to the U.S. government who could take as little as a day to initially vet, U.S. officials said.

The United States already has ties with networks of Syrian fighters, including through a clandestine CIA program that has already trained rebels and through U.S. government programs to provide non-lethal aid.

“We (the U.S. government) have a current relationship with people on the ground. We are not starting from scratch,” one U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The priority is to screen out human rights violators, spies and rebels who might switch sides.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia offered to host the training program but declined to discuss names of other nations which might also participate. People familiar with the planning told Reuters that Jordan had also offered to host the program. Jordan’s embassy declined to comment…

Big mistake. The US should stop cooperating with Turkey and Qatar in particular. It would be better to do nothing than this.