Turkey about to begin equipping and training Syrian rebels 0405153

Defence & Security News - Turkey
Turkey about to begin equipping and training Syrian rebels
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey will begin to train and equip Syrian rebels next Saturday, local Yeni Safak newspaper reported on Saturday. A group of 300 Syrian rebels will go through the first phase of the training program and a second group of 300 rebels will come to Turkey later, Cavusoglu said.
Turkey about to begin equipping and training Syrian rebels 640 001Turkish soldiers patrol a military station at the border crossing with Syria in Akçakale
The Tukrish FM added that the trained rebels will fight against both the Islamic State (IS) group and the Syrian government forces.

On Thursday, local Daily News reported that some 123 U.S. soldiers arrived in Turkey for training the Syrian rebels, along with weapons which were transferred to Incirlik Airbase in the southern Adana province to equip part of the program.

It added that 83 of the U.S. soldiers were deployed in Incirlik Airbase, while 40 others, all members of the Special Forces, are in a military base in the central Anatolian province of Kirsehir.

In February, Ankara and Washington signed an agreement to train some 2,000 members of the Free Syrian Army in one year and 5,000 fighters in three years inside Turkey.

Turkey has been criticized for being reluctant to take robust measures and declining to be a fully-fledged part of the anti-IS coalition unless Washington agrees to adopt an "integrated strategy" that also aims to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

Turkey, once an ally of Assad, is now the fierce opponent of the Syrian government and has been supporting the opposition trying to topple him since 2011.