Saturday Jul 20, 201312:13 PM GMT
US troops training to move into Syria: Report
Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:12PM
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US soldiers from Bravo Company 1-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division board a Chinook helicopter prior to a 48 hour mission in Afghanistan in 2007.

American troops are training in the state of North Carolina to move into Syria, should President Barack Obama give the green light to a military assault on the Middle Eastern nation.

About 1,500 paratroopers participated in a training mission Thursday night which included parachuting from an altitude of 800 feet, bringing with them nearly 190,000 pounds of equipment, CBS News reported.

The soldiers then launched a helicopter assault on a compound where chemical agents were believed to be stored.

They were the first of some 4,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division training with the purpose of securing chemical weapons that Washington alleges Syria has.

"Chemical weapons are not something we've encountered in the last ten years of counterinsurgency," Maj. Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the 82nd told the CBS. "So there's many dimensions to the issue of securing chemical stockpiles that we're working through right now."

This comes as General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate Panel Thursday that the has provided President Obama with several military options for Syria.

The top American officer insisted that the momentum of the ongoing conflict has shifted in favor of Damascus.

Senator John McCain (R - AZ), a strong advocate of US military involvement in Syria, said the administration should have attacked the country long ago.

The US has for months been training anti-Syria militants at secret bases in Jordan and Turkey and has coordinated the shipment of weapons to the armed groups fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

However, President Obama’s pledge of arming the militants and the new talk of potential military action against Syria has worried some lawmakers in Congress, bringing the plan to a standstill.

“The administration seems reluctant to address that criticism publicly, and is relying on hawks to shout down any opposition to war in general,” wrote Jason Ditz, editor at

The White House announced in June that it would supply weapons to the militant groups in Syria. The decision came after the administration claimed the Assad government had used chemical weapons against the militants. Damascus has strongly rejected the allegation.

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