Britain to train Syrian opposition forces: Defence Minister Fallon

Britain to train Syrian opposition forces: Defence Minister Fallon
Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon arrives for the Afghanistan service of commemoration at St Paul's Cathedral in London March 13, 2015.

LONDON - Britain will send around 75 military personnel to join a US-led programme to train Syrian opposition forces, Defence Minister Michael Fallon said on Thursday.

The programme will train and equip thousands of screened members of the opposition over the next three years to help them defend Syrian communities against Islamic State militants before eventually leading offensives. "ISIL must be defeated in both Iraq and Syria ... defeating ISIL ultimately lies with local forces and we are helping to create effective ground forces in Syria, as well as in Iraq, so they can take the fight to ISIL," Fallon said in a statement.

Fallon said the training, expected to begin in the next few weeks, would see British troops provide instruction in the use of small arms, infantry tactics and medical skills. It will take place in Turkey and other countries in the region which are part of the international coalition fighting Islamic State.

Britain will also be sending two Sentinel aircraft to the region to provide wider surveillance over Iraq.

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