President Obama has ignited a debate about if and how the U.S. should get involved in the Syria Civil War, but it turns out the debate might have ended a long time ago. The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that CIA agents and Special Forces units have been giving Free Syrian Army soldiers a crash course in using anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry at secret U.S. training bases in Jordan and Turkey.
The training began last November and involves taking a couple dozen rebels at a time, and teaching them how to use the heavy weaponry. Around 100 total rebels from across Syria have taken part.
While the Americans did not give the Syrians weapons to take back to the front, arms shipments from Saudi Arabia and Qatar were meant to supply the rebel forces. However, the L.A. Times report says the heavy weapons were slow to arrive and small in number.
The training programs also apparently served a dual purpose, as it they gave CIA officers an opportunity to talk to the rebel fighters and learn what they could about the situation inside Syria.
The U.S. has publicly stated that the Assad government has used chemical weapons (a claim not everyone is buying) and is now considering increased support to the rebel armies. That could include versions of the very weapons these rebel groups were trained on, but many are worried if those weapons might someday be used against American or their allies. But those concerns, or the concerns of the Russia, the United Nations, or anyone else in the international community, have obviously not been enough to stop the U.S. from trying to influence the outcome of the war.