US training Syrians to battle Islamic State: Pentagon

Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday (May 7) that US military troops have begun training a small, company-sized group of Syrian fighters to battle Islamic State militants who have overrun parts of Syria and Iraq.

Carter told a news conference a second company-sized group of Syrian fighters would begin training soon. The Pentagon chief said the company-sized unit that already has started training has about 90 personnel.

He also said that the US military would need to provide support to Syrian fighters they are training to battle Islamic State militants in Syria, but that Washington has not yet decided the exact nature of that support.

Carter said the US military might provide things like reconnaissance and other air support if the fighters were in danger from Islamic State militants. But he indicated the ground rules had not been finalised if the fighters were confronted by troops supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"We have some responsibility. We have not determined yet all of the rules of engagement under those circumstances," Carter told a news conference.

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