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US official: Saudis to host Syrian rebel training

September 11, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says Saudi Arabia has agreed to open its bases for the training of moderate Syrian rebel forces as part of an effort to better equip them against the threat of Islamic State militants.

The decision by the Saudis signals a significant new role for the influential Sunni kingdom in the fight against the Islamic State group.

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for authorization to arm and train Syrian fighters.

The use of moderate Syrian rebels is a key component of Obama’s strategy because the U.S. considers the government of President Bashar Assad to be illegitimate.

The rebel fighters are essentially in a two-front conflict, fighting both Islamic State militants and Assad’s forces.

The official would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of Obama’s speech.

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