U.S. Mulls Training Elite Iraqi Forces to Repel Al-Qaeda

Reuters13.01.2014 Iraq
U.S. Mulls Training Elite Iraqi Forces to Repel Al-Qaeda

U.S. Mulls Training Elite Iraqi Forces to Repel Al-Qaeda

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As the Iraqi government holds off on waging an all-out offensive on al-Qaeda-linked groups in the Sunni Province of Anbar, the Obama Administration is considering providing fresh training to elite Iraqi forces in Jordan.

The United States is currently trying to find ways to help Iraq repel an al-Qaeda campaign near its western border as fears have arisen that a full-fledged military intervention in Anbar could incite Sunni anger and push moderate tribal leaders to side with the extremists.

It is said that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda affiliate, is seeking to set up a Sunni religious state straddling Iraq and Syria.

Earlier last week, U.S. officials said the United States was in discussions with Iraq about training its elite forces in a third country, which would allow Washington to provide a modest measure of new support against militants in the absence of a troop deal allowing U.S. soldiers to operate within Iraq.

“There is discussion about this, and Jordan is included in the discussions,” a U.S. defense official told Reuters.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a privately run special operations training center near Amman was one of the sites being considered.

It is not clear who exactly would provide the new training to Iraqi Forces, but it might include U.S. Special Forces soldiers or contractors.

Jordan, also grappling with the mounting impact of the conflict in neighboring Syria, is one of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East.

In Syria, especially in the northwestern province of Aleppo, rebels battling government of President Bashar al-Assad also fought against ISIL in the latest rebel-on-rebel fighting.

Meanwhile, Iraq has also urged the Obama administration to approve weapons sales to the country marred by increasing violence. However, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has blocked the lease and sale of the powerful attack helicopters for months.

But, the New York Times reported a change of heart. On Thursday the U.S. paper quoted Menendez’s spokesmen, Adam Sharon, saying that “the administration is now addressing concerns first raised in July that required responses before this sale could proceed.”

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner urged Washington to provide more equipment and other aid to the Iraqi government, but he ruled out a reintroduction of U.S. troops for the time being.
Source: Reuters

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