123 US soldiers with weapons arrived at Turkey
Some 123 U.S. soldiers arrived in Turkey for training of What US calls “Syrian moderate rebels”, along with weapons that are being transferred to İncirlik Airbase for equipping part of the program”, Hurriyet daily news reports.
Syrians, who will be trained in Hirfanlı military base in Kırşehir, will be transferred to southern Hatay where they will be equipped with necessary briefing for use of arms, including anti-tank and machine guns, before travelling to Syria to join fight against the ISIL, according to sources.
83 of the U.S. soldiers are deployed in İncirlik Airbase, while 40 of them are in Kırşehir at the moment.
The program, agreed by Ankara and Washington in February, was delayed for months due to disagreements between Turkey and the U.S. on whom to train.
Washington concerned with radicals could leak into the trainees of the program, the U.S. preferred to determine a broad group of Syrian opposition members, with the option that Ankara could exclude any rebels from training program.
According to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) sealed by U.S. Ambassador to Ankara John Bass and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu on Feb. 19, Ankara will provide an equal number of trainers to work alongside their American military counterparts.