The United States is developing an expanded training program for local Kurdish and Arab border guards in Syria, the top US commander for the Middle East said, to help head off the "significant risk" of Islamic State fighters regrouping in the country. It's an effort that could entail a longer term American and allied commitment.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press that the border control training would reflect major combat operations in Syria ending and the US-led coalition shifting focus to stabilizing areas seized from IS. Washington also wants to root out the remaining insurgents in Syria.
Votel wouldn't say exactly how many US forces will remain in Syria or for how long, but said the American military campaign in Syria will remain consistent. He suggested no imminent decrease in the US troop level on the ground in Syria, which currently exceeds 2,000.
The border security forces "will help prevent resurgence of ISIS and will help bring control," Votel said, adding that training will take place inside Syria. "We do it right where it's needed."