Turkey, U.S. sign deal to train and equip Syrian rebels

Baku, February 20, AZERTAC 

The United States and Turkey signed an agreement on Thursday to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition fighters, and Ankara will provide an equal number of trainers to work alongside their American military counterparts.

The deal with Turkey formalized plans for one of four known sites to be used in a broader program to train Syrian rebels opposed to Islamic State militants.

The effort to train and equip Syrian moderates to fight Islamic State rebels began to pick up steam after months of planning. The Pentagon said on Wednesday it had identified some 1,200 Syrian opposition fighters for potential training.

The U.S.-Turkey deal was signed by an undersecretary at the Foreign Ministry and the U.S. ambassador, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said.

It provides a training facility that will require only modest security upgrades, work Ankara has already begun, an official at the U.S. military's Central Command told reporters.

The U.S. official said Turkey demanded an equal role in the training mission and would provide the same number of trainers at its facility as the American side.

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