US will start training of militants in Syria this week
The US military says it will begin to train thousands of militants fighting against the ISIL terrorist group in Syria as soon as this week.
American defense officials said 400 US military trainers are ready in Turkey and Jordan to train 3,000 militants.
The officials also noted that some of the trained foreign-backed militants could decide to fight the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States will also provide the militants with weapons, trucks and tactical radios for their communication.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. More than 222,000 people have been killed in the country, the UK-based so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The United States and its regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, now control large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stands amid the crowd during an appearance in Damascus on May 6, 2015. (AFP Photo)
On Wednesday, President Assad announced that a series of setbacks against the terrorists does not mean the Arab country has lost its war on terror, calling for more confidence in the government in its military campaign.
“Today we are fighting a war, not a battle. War is not one battle, but a series of many battles,” he said in the capital city of Damascus.
The president’s comments were his first after a string of advances by terrorist groups in the northwestern Idlib Province, where the city of Jisr al-Shughur recently fell into the hands of the militants.
“We are not talking about tens or hundreds but thousands of battles and... it is the nature of battles for there to be advances and retreats, victories and losses, ups and downs,” Assad said, urging the Syrian people to be more vigilant against "the spread of a spirit of frustration or despair at a loss here or there."
The United Nations said more than 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis and over 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced.