US Steps Up Syria Rebel Training in Jordan

Eyes 'Buffer Zone' Along Syria-Jordan Border

It was revealed early last month that the US is training Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel fighters in neighboring Jordan. Today, reports are emerging that this training has been escalated, with an eye toward more fighting along the Jordan border.

Jordanian officials familiar with the process say that they are hoping to have 3,000 FSA officers trained by the end of April, a goal they initially didn’t envision reaching until this summer. The ultimate aim is to capture a “buffer zone” for rebels along the Jordan border.

“Buffer zones” have been openly endorsed by the US a lot, couched as a humanitarian endeavor, though always with the implication that the zones are going to be used as rebel bases of operations as opposed to demilitarized areas for civilians to flee the fighting.

For a long time there has been talk of establishing a buffer along the Turkish border in the far north, and this would be a secondary one in the south. Along with reports that Israel may invade to conquer a “buffer zone” of their own in Golan, Assad government territory could be getting small indeed.

At the same time, though Jordan’s military is familiar with this training program, it isn’t clear how on-board the Jordanian government is, with officials repeatedly expressing concerns that the Islamist-led rebels, should they prevail, may quickly expand the war in several directions, including riling up long-standing religious tensions in Jordan.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.