McClatchy reports that they talked with some Syrian rebels who claimed that they were trained by Jordanian troops who were being advised by US and British intelligence officers as long ago as October. the rebels also said that they were allowed to take some light weapons back with them to Syria;
“We hoped there would be more training on larger weapons,” said Kamal al-Zoubani, a fighter from the southern Syrian city of Daraa, which often is referred to as the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, which began nearly 22 months ago. “But we were allowed to take light weapons back to Syria with us.”
By November, another rebel said, the training had expanded to anti-tank weapons and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
American officials, citing concerns that they didn’t know the political leanings of anti-Assad groups, have said repeatedly that they aren’t providing weapons to the rebels, leaving that to countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The Syrians told McClatchy that as many as 180 have been trained in southern Jordanian bases.
This news comes out as the Pentagon announced plans to deploy 400 troops along with some Patriot missiles to Turkey;
“The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies, is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria,” [Pentagon Press Secretary George Little] said.
Incirlik Air Base is an installation of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, a major command of the U.S. Air Force and the air component of the U.S. European Command, a DOD unified command.
The real purpose of the deployment is for a relatively small number of troops to be a speed bump/tripwire for US participation in case Syria gets froggy with Turkey. It sounds like there’s a lot of potential for these operations to be subject to mission creep in the region.