Turkey to train Syrian fighters with simulators

Turkey to train Syrian fighters with simulators

Uğur Ergan ANKARA
Turkey to train Syrian fighters with simulators

A Turkish forces soldier riding atop an armored vehicle gestures to members of the media to leave a hilltop overlooking the Syrian town of Kobane. AP photo

Turkey and the United States have agreed to train Syrian fighters in Turkey by giving the forces training with shooting simulators before practicing firing with real ammunition.

Officials from both the United States European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and high-ranking Turkish military officials agreed on some points about the training of Syrian opposition fighters in Turkey and future moves against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

The two days of meetings came after the U.S. said Turkey agreed on hosting, equipping and training the Syrian opposition. The U.S. officials were expected to leave Turkey late yesterday after their meetings at the General Staff in Ankara were completed.

The two sides agreed to launch the training of moderate Syrian fighters with small arms fire simulators. After completing the training on simulators, the fighters will be trained with real ammunition on Turkish soil. Further training will include locating targets, locating targets with lasers, forestallment, sabotage, preventing forestallment, training on explosives and operations on buildings.

The Turkish side strongly argued that the forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which are doing the lion’s share of the fighting against ISIL in the Syrian border town of Kobane, should not be supported by any means.

Simulator training is usually provided at the Şehit Brig. Gen. Bahtiyar Aydın Barracks of the gendarmerie forces in Kırşehir province. Therefore, Syrian fighters are most likely to be trained at these barracks due to the facilities there.

There is more than one fire simulator at the barracks, which is a fully equipped training military command. It has the capacity to host 1,150 personnel with 192 tent platforms and a 500-bed capacity for the soldiers, 120-person guesthouse for personnel, and a motel building with 20 apartments.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced last week that Turkey had agreed to let the U.S. use Turkish bases and territory “to train moderate Syrian opposition forces.”

“That’s the new commitment, and one that we very much welcome,” she said.

Her comments came after meetings between U.S. presidential envoy John Allen in Ankara with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu.