Syrian Foreign Ministry official criticizes US training of rebels, saying it fuels terrorism

Syria's deputy foreign minister has criticized a U.S. program to train moderate rebel fighters which has begun in Jordan, saying it only fuels terrorism and will further complicate efforts to reach a political solution.

The remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad were published Saturday in his weekly column for the Lebanon-based Al-Binaa newspaper.

U.S. officials say the program is part of a broader effort to build a force capable of fighting Islamic State extremists — not President Bashar Assad's forces. Officials said Thursday the training started in Jordan and will be expanded to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Mekdad said Washington is better off giving a hand to those fighting terrorism, instead of cooperating with what he said were terrorists. His government refers to all armed opposition as "terrorists."