Norway training Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State

Norway training Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State
Norway on Monday announced it plans to deploy 60 special forces troops to Jordan in order to train Syrians on fighting the Islamic State group.
2 min read
03 May, 2016
Norwegian troops are already training Kurdish forces in Iraq [Getty]

Norway announced Monday that it would deploy 60 soldiers to train Syrians fighting the Islamic State group, boosting its involvement in the international coalition against the extremists.

The soldiers belonging to the Norwegian Special Forces would conduct the training in Jordan, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference in Oslo.

"The brutal acts by IS have cost many civilians their lives and led an even greater number to flee [Syria]," Solberg said.

IS has also "brought terrorism to Europe and young people are radicalised and recruited in order to have foreign fighters," she added.

The Syrian groups that will be trained by the Norwegian soldiers were not identified, but according to Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, they were chosen following a "thorough and systematic" selection process.

"One condition for our support is that their operations be directed against IS and that they do not harm any of the current peace efforts in Syria," Soreide said.

Norway is already involved in the anti-IS coalition, in particular by training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The United States, which is leading the international coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq on Monday welcomed Norway's announcement to deploy military trainers.

"The added forces are a welcome contribution from a stalwart ally, and another sign of the growing momentum in the campaign to defeat ISIL," US defence secretary Ashton Carter said in a statement using another acronym for IS.

"With today's announcement, Norway joins a long a list of countries that have provided additional contributions in key areas of need in the counter-ISIL fight, and I want to personally thank Minister of Defense Ine Eriksen Soreide for her leadership in securing these contributions."

The US recently revamped a programme to train Syrian fighters to combat IS which had been a spectacular failure.

The Pentagon's $500 million train-and-equip programme was scrapped last year after graduates were caught transferring US weapons and ammunition to Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front.