U.S.-backed defense contractors training Syrian rebels to secure chemical weapons sites

Syrian rebels are being trained to secure chemical weapons stockpiles by defense contractors paid for by the United States and some of its allies in Europe.

A senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats said that the training is taking place in Turkey and Jordan. It includes how to monitor and secure the stockpiles, as well as how to handle potentially dangerous material, according to CNN.

The officials did not disclose the nationality of the contractors, but warned against assuming all were American.

One of the aims of the training program is to try to achieve real-time surveillance to determine exactly what is going on at suspected sites while they remain in the hands of the Syrian government. This could help explain how U.S. intelligence officials were able to acquire information that Syria is mixing the precursors for chemical weapons and possibly loading them onto bombs, CNN reports.

The U.S. military is training Jordan's military to secure chemical weapons sites, but U.S. troops cannot currently train rebel forces because the United States has only authorized nonlethal aid for opposition forces.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not made any moves to deploy chemical weapons, nor any significant moves towards preparing them since the major international condemnations in response to his initial moves.