Politics

Turkey expects trained fighters to take on ISIL, Assad

Turkey and the U.S. will soon sign a memorandum of understanding to jointly train-and-equip Syrian fighters, Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu says.

19.02.2015
Turkey expects trained fighters to take on ISIL, Assad

ANKARA

Turkey expects Syrian fighters that will be trained in a joint program to fight both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the Bashar al-Assad regime, Turkish foreign minister said Thursday.

Addrssing a joint press conference with his Kosovar counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey and the U.S. would soon sign a memorandum of understanding to jointly train-and-equip Syrian fighters.

On Wednesday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said the training program was expected to begin by March or April.  The Pentagon said the U.S. had identified 1,200 individuals from among different Syrian opposition groups to be vetted for the program.  

Cavusoglu stressed on the point that the terrorist group and the Assad regime were both threats of instability in Syria. "Particularly Daesh (ISIL), other terrorist organizations and the regime are a threat for Syrian security and stability," he said.

He added the Assad regime was continuing to kill hundreds of people.

"Fighters in the train-and-equip program are expected to fight Daesh (ISIL), but they should also struggle with the regime," the foreign minister said.

He also backed the efforts of UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who urged for a cease-fire in the Syrian city of Aleppo for at least six weeks.

"Ensuring even one day of cease-fire means preventing the deaths of hundreds of people," Cavusoglu said.

He said that the Assad-regime had lost its legitimacy and now a political transition was needed in Syria to ensure peace and stability in the country.

 

 Kosovo's international recognition

 

Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue to struggle for Kosovo's recognition by more countries.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008, and is recognized by 108 states, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Turkey.

Kosovar Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hachim Thaci said that Kosovo was taking steps towards membership of international organizations, including NATO.

“Within this year, we will apply to join the European Council,” Thaci said, adding “34 of 47 EU council’s members have already recognized Kosovo’s independence.”

“This year, we will also start the establishment of the army,” he said. Kosovo aims to establish 8,000-strong force, a move opposed by Serbia that still did not recognize the country’s independence.

The Kosovar foreign minister also hoped that relations between Serbia and Kosovo would normalize soon.

European Union is also brokering agreements between Kosovo and Serbia.

He thanked Turkey for lobbying with other states for recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

About the Turkish community in Kosovo, Thaci said, “They are represented in the parliament, government and are a solid bridge between Kosovo and Turkey.”

Turkish community in Kosovo is estimated at 1.1 percent of country’s population of about 1.8 million.

He also said invited Turkish investors to invest in Kosovo.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also host Thaci at the presidential palace Thursday.

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