Associated Press
In this April 30, 2014, file image provided by the Syrian Revolution Against Bashar Assad, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrian rebels pray in front of their tank at al Mutayia village in the southern province of Daraa, Syria.

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says the long-awaited coalition program to train the Syrian moderate opposition could begin by early spring, and that officials are beginning to identify individual fighters who could participate.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, says that once the training program gets up and running it may require additional U.S. forces to assist with the instruction. He did not provide details on how many. Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have agreed to provide training locations.

The effort to train Syrian rebels is part of the overall campaign to defeat Islamic State militants who gained control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq. Kirby says the militant group's momentum in Iraq has been halted and IS fighters have largely been in a defensive posture for several weeks.