Turkey to train, equip Syrian rebels in border province, too
Sevil Erkuş - email@example.com ANKARA
REUTERS PhotoTurkey will provide a military facility in the southern province of Hatay, along with the Hirfanlı military base in the central Anatolian province of Kırşehir, for the training-equip program with the U.S. in the struggle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Turkish official has told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The train-equip program at a military facility in Hatay on Turkey's border with Syria is expected to start at the end of April, the official added.
The U.S. and Turkey recently agreed on plans to train 2,000 members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Turkish territory. Ankara and Washington are still working on the list of Syrian opposition forces that will be trained on Turkish territory, and the U.S. has identified some 1,200 Syrian opposition fighters for potential training. The first 2,000-strong group of Syrian trainees is expected to be mostly made up of Turkmens from the Damascus and Aleppo areas.
A program for training and equipping moderate Syrian opposition forces in Turkey’s Kırşehir province, agreed by Ankara and Washington in February, has not yet been launched as technical talks are ongoing, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters March 24.
Turkey has demanded an equal role in the training mission and would provide the same number of trainers at its facility as the U.S. side.
Ankara has also reportedly demanded the formation of a joint committee with U.S. officials to determine the list of trainees, which it wants to view Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an “essential target” along with ISIL.