- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In a move that would expand America’s involvement in Syria’s civil war, President Obama is close to authorizing the U.S. military to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight the regime of Bashar Assad and al Qaeda-linked groups, according to reports.

U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that the new military program would supplement a small training effort led by the CIA, which Mr. Obama authorized a year ago.

At the White House Tuesday, Mr. Obama declined to answer a reporter’s question about the U.S. sending more advisers to train the rebels.

In a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday, Mr. Obama is expected to give his backing for the new training effort by saying he intends to increase support to the armed Syrian opposition, including by providing them with training, the Journal reported.

A Frontline documentary to air Tuesday night will air interviews with moderate Syrian rebels who say the U.S. is arranging for their training in Qatar, with sophisticated weapons and techniques.

The administration has been debating for a year how to put more pressure on the Assad regime without entangling the U.S. in another protracted Middle East war.

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• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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