Turkey extends military training to local Sunni forces and Iraqi army
Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
Members of the Iraqi security forces take part in training, as they prepare to fight against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at a training camp on the outskirts of Mosul. REUTERS Photo.Turkey will extend its training program to the Iraqi army and local Sunni forces in Mosul, in addition to the 1500 Kurdish fighters the Turkish armed forces has trained since November, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said.
“We have decided to give train-equip, intelligence and logistics support to the Iraqi Army, the Peshmerga and the Sunnis,” Yılmaz told reporters on March 10, elaborating on his visit to Baghdad and Arbil last week.
The training of local Sunni tribes would take place in northern Iraq, the minister said, adding that the total number of trained Peshmerga by Turkish armed Forces exceeded 1500 and the number of trainees is open-ended upon the demand of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq (KRG).
The Turkish Armed Forces has conducted a training program for Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq since November as part of efforts to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Ankara is awaiting a decision from Iraqi officials to determine a location for the military training program, said the minister. Turkey prefers to provide military training in Iraq, but Ankara would be accommodating if the Iraqis demand the training take place in Turkish territory, he said.
The minister confirmed a statement by exiled Governor of Mosul Asil Nujaifi, who said Turkey promised military training for members of Sunni tribes in the region.
Yılmaz also said Turkey and the U.S. will jointly decide the timing of the train-equip program for the Syrian opposition.