Moderate Syrian opposition groups may soon be receiving training and equipment from U.S. forces in Turkey.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced Tuesday that the U.S. and Turkey have reached a tentative agreement "in principle," and will sign an accord "soon."
Syria's moderate opposition groups have long felt marginalized in the ongoing, brutal civil war in Syria, and have repeatedly called for equipment and training. That war, now four years old and responsible for more than 200,000 deaths, has large groups of combatants fighting variously for embattled President Bashar Assad, al Qaeda affiliates, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and others.
In September of last year, President Obama signed legislation that gives the U.S. approval to arm and train Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS.
Mr. Obama has said repeatedly he does not want to deploy combat troops to fight ISIS, but currently is seeking Congressional authorization to wage war against the militant group. The White House isn't saying it favors a role for U.S. ground forces in combating Islamic State terrorists, a move that a few outspoken lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, have said will be necessary. But it isn't saying it opposes one, either.
Instead, the White House is merely declining to seek an "enduring offensive combat role" in authorizing the use of military force against extremists
In January, the Pentagon announced that they will send more than 400 troops to train moderate Syrian rebels "in the spring" along with hundreds of support personnel.
The Pentagon hasn't specified where the troops will be drawn from.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have also reportedly offered to host the training.