The United States and Turkey have finalized talks on the training and arming of the so-called moderate militants fighting in Syria, a report says.
American and Turkish officials will sign a memorandum of understanding within days, CNN Turk quoted an unnamed senior official as saying on Tuesday. The training is likely to begin next month.
“For us, the talks are completed. We are waiting for the US side to complete its approval process,” the Turkish official said.
The Pentagon has said it is planning to deploy more than 400 special forces to the Middle East to train “moderate” militants outside Syria as part of the fight against ISIL terrorists, who have captured large parts of territory in Syria and around one-third of the territory of Iraq.
A Turkish foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that Ankara hopes the deal will also strengthen the beleaguered insurgents fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Negotiations have been concluded and an agreement text will be signed with the US regarding the training of the Free Syrian Army in the coming period,” Tanju Bilgic said.
“We will share all the technical details…when the text is signed, but it is anticipated that this will happen in the coming days,” he told reporters in Ankara.
Last month, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference in Washington that the US military will deploy some 400 trainers in the region in the next four to six weeks, and also send a similar number of troops to help them carry out the mission.
He said that more than 5,400 militants fighting in Syria would receive training and arms in the first year of the program. In December, the US Congress approved $500 million for the Pentagon venture.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. The United States and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside the country.
According to the United Nations, more than 200,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for nearly four years.
The ISIL terrorists, many of whom were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
A former CIA contractor said in a recent interview with Press TV that the agency is frustrated for being asked to train ISIL terrorists and at the very same time to combat them.
“The CIA is being faced with their current task of continuing to arm and train the rebels, which they’ve admitted to doing – the so-called Free Syrian Army, and at the same time being asked to combat the group ISIL, which it is getting harder and harder for them to mask that it’s essentially the same group,” said Steven D. Kelley.