Turkey, US to start train-and-equip plan for Syria rebels May 9
ISTANBUL - Reuters
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is seen in this photo with a group of younger members of his party in the southern province of Adana on April 30. AA photoThe latest U.S.-led plan to train and arm a Syrian opposition force will start in Turkey on May 9, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told a Turkish newspaper.
The programme to train and arm a force that is expected to eventually total more than 15,000 troops has been mired in delays as many details of the plan, such as whether or how Washington would come to their aid on the battlefield, remain unclear. A rebel commander last month told Reuters he expected the training to start in July.
On Friday Çavuşoğlu told Turkish daily Sabah that the U.S. and Turkey share the view of a Syria without President Bashar al-Assad.
"There isn't any political or other issue. At first, 300 people will be trained, followed by the next 300 and, at the end of the year, the number of trained and equipped fighters will reach 2,000," he said.
Rebel groups have already been receiving weapons and training from a CIA-led programme that Washington has never acknowledged. The new programme is under the direction of the Defense Department.
In late March Çavuşoğlu blamed the "minor delay" in the programme on the "U.S. (geographic) distance."