If the train-and-equip program is effective it can allow Syrian opposition groups to clear up and create a safe zone in northern Syria, a U.S. administration official said Friday.
"The train-and-equip mission is actually relevant to that goal as well because you need to have viable partners on the ground to hold terrain," the official said. "That's a different model than having the international community declare this area as a safe zone," he said.
Turkey has been calling for a safe zone in northern Syria for a long time. Currently, the country is hosting around 1.3 million Syrian refugees since the civil war in Syria began three years ago.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or the ISIL, terrorist group has occupied large swathes of territory in Syria apart from capturing key towns and cities in Iraq.
The U.S. presidential envoy to lead the anti-ISIL coalition, John Allen, was in Turkey recently to discuss the anti-ISIL strategy.
Turkey had announced it would train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces as part of a U.S.-led coalition mission.
"One of the reasons why it would be useful to have more access to Turkish facilities is that it would potentially open up our ability to do more in support of opposition forces, who are combating ISIL," the official said.
He acknowledged the U.S. now had a robust dialogue with Turkey to meet at common ground.
"I think it’s been our view that we should start with our common baseline of what we're trying to achieve and then continue to have a pretty rigorous dialogue of how best to achieve it," the official said.
He agreed with Turkey that there was a need for a political transition away from Bashar al- Assad as part of an endgame in Syria.
"At the moment our highest priority in Iraq and Syria is degrading and eventually defeating ISIL. We’ve stated that explicitly. We have ISIL-first, Iraq-first strategy. But not an ISIL-only, Iraq-only strategy," he noted.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.