Peshmerga training included in US deal

Peshmerga training included in US deal

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Peshmerga training included in US deal

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters walk next to their tank as they take control of the area on the outskirts of Mosul in the early days of February 2015. REUTERS Photo

As part of an agreement between Turkey and the U.S., some 20 Turkish soldiers will participate in the training program of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq as part of the struggle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

As Turkey and the U.S. have finalized the draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a program to train and equip the moderate Syrian opposition, training Peshmerga forces has also been included in the package.

Turkish soldiers already began Special Forces training with Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq in November. Last week, a delegation from the U.S. Army had meetings in Turkey and visited the Hirfanlı base, where both parties have agreed to conduct the training program.

There, three-month-long programs will be consecutively arranged and in each of the programs, a group of 200-300 Syrian opposition members, mainly made up of Turkmens, will be trained, a Turkish official said, noting that 30 U.S. soldiers would be assisting the training project.

“Trained Syrian opposition members will de facto establish safe havens when they go back and maintain order in northern Syria,” the official said, adding that Turkey aimed to relocate Syrian refugees to these areas.

Chief of Turkish General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel will discuss the issue during the gathering of anti-ISIL coalition members in Saudi Arabia, while Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz will discuss the details in Washington.