US, Turkey to continue train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels
The US-backed train-and-equip program has come under recent scrutiny due to its low number of recruits. (AFP/File)
Turkey will keep contributing to the training and equipment of Syrian opposition fighters, in accordance with its agreement with the U.S., the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said.
"Within the scope of the agreement with U.S., the train-and-equip program is being carried out as outlined,” Spokesman Tanju Bilgic said at a press conference Thursday.
He said that after the first group which has already entered Syria, a second group of 100 people were currently receiving training.
“Moving forward, train-and-equip activities will continue uninterruptedly," Bilgic said.
A total of 54 Syrian opposition fighters went into the country early in August after completing a training regimen at the beginning of July.
Bilgic added that the ministry expected joint air operations with the U.S. against Daesh to start “soon”. Turkey has opened its airbases to support the anti-Daesh coalition, but has not itself carried out airstrikes against Daesh targets in coordination with coalition aircraft.
The train-and-equip program, jointly organized by the U.S. and coalition partners, is intended to help prepare moderate Syrian opposition fighters in the campaign against Daesh. It is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and Turkey on Feb. 17 to allow up to 1,000 U.S. troops to participate in the training in Turkey.