West training terrorists in Jordan

 

Western training of terrorists  is under way in Jordan in an effort to strengthen secular elements in the opposition as a bulwark against "Islamic" extremism, and to begin building security forces to maintain order in the event of Bashar al-Assad's fall.

Jordanian security sources say the training effort is led by the US, but involves British and French instructors.

The UK Ministry of Defence denied any British soldiers were providing direct military training to the rebels, though a small number of personnel, including special forces teams, have been in the country training the Jordanian military.

But the Guardian has been told that UK intelligence teams are giving the rebels logistical and other advice in some form.

British officials have made it clear that they believe new EU rules have now given the UK the green light to start providing military training for rebels  with the aim of containing the spread of chaos and extremism in areas outside the Syrian government's control.

According to European and Jordanian sources the western training in Jordan has been going on since last year and is focused on senior Syrian army officers who defected.

"As is normal, before any major decision is taken on this issue, the preparations are made so that when that decision is taken, everything is in place for it to go smoothly. That is what these groups [special forces] do. They go in advance," a European diplomat said.

A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: "It's the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we're not talking about a huge operation."

He added that there had so far been no "green light" for the rebel forces being trained to be sent into Syria. But they would be deployed if there were signs of a complete collapse of public services in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which could trigger a million more Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan, which is reeling under the strain of accommodating the 320,000 who have already sought shelter there.

The aim of sending western-trained rebels over the border would be to create a safe area for refugees on the Syrian side of the border, to prevent chaos and to provide a counterweight to al-Qaida-linked extremists who have become a powerful force in the north.

 

British officials say new European guidelines on the Syrian arms embargo, formally adopted by the EU at the beginning of March, allow military training as long as the ultimate aim of that training is "the protection of civilians".

Officials in Brussels say the language of the guidelines is less than clear-cut. "It's deliberately hazy," said one. "When it comes to technical assistance, what it means in practice depends on who you ask. The Brits and the French, for example, are much more forward-leaning than others. The principle is that the assistance should be for the protection of civilians, but as we saw in Libya, that can be interpreted in different ways."

William Hague, the foreign minister, outlined the goals of such training on Wednesday.

The Pentagon said last October that a small group of US special forces and military planners had been to Jordan during the summer .

That planning cell, which was housed at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in the north of the capital, Amman, has since been expanded to co-ordinate a more ambitious training programme. But Jordanian sources said the actual training was being carried out at more remote sites, with recent US reports saying it was being led by the CIA.

Earlier this week, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said Washington was now confident that arms supplies to the rebels would not be diverted to extremists. "There is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that," he said.

 

Source:the Guardian

M.D

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