Train-equip program delay due to transfer of US soldiers: Çavuşoğlu
AFP PhotoDelays in the program for training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition are not due to a disagreement between Ankara and Washington, but rather because of “technical reasons,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.
“The arrival of U.S. soldiers in Turkey was delayed due to distance,” Çavuşoğlu said on May 11 in a televised interview.
The program will start in Jordan and Turkey first, he added, noting that it might be implemented in Qatar as well and the first group of trainees has been determined.
Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey’s argument that a “safe zone” in Syria is a must for the deployment of Syrian opposition after the training. “A safe haven is required for these people to be efficient on the ground,” he said.
A no-fly zone should also be declared in these areas to protect the Syrian opposition, he added.
“If they are only trained, equipped and told to ‘take care of yourselves,’ then the program will not achieve its objective,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The Turkish foreign minister had earlier predicted that that U.S.-led plan to train and arm a Syrian opposition force would start in Turkey on May 9, but this date has now passed.