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Turkey, US to train Syrian opposition fighters

Diplomatic sources say deal to train thousands of 'moderate' Syrian forces between U.S. and Turkey likely to be signed in January.

Turkey, US to train Syrian opposition fighters


Turkey is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the United States on a "training and equipment program" for Syrian opposition forces in January, diplomatic sources said on Monday.

The program will start in March and will last for three years. After this time, a total of 15,000 Syrian opposition fighters are expected to have been trained in Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey is expected to host around 100 U.S. soldiers connected to the training; Turkey will also directly train between 500 and 2,000 opposition fighters a year.

Following a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Ankara on November 22, 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and he agreed on Turkey's efforts to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces protecting their communities.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has also called for the equipping and training of the Free Syrian Army in a comprehensive manner.

Among Turkey's strategic suggestions to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levent, are calls for a "no-fly zone" and "safe zones" on Syrian territory, plus the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from his position.

Currently, Turkey hosts around 1.6 million Syrian refugees since the civil war in Syria began in 2011.

ISIL has occupied large swathes of territory in Syria as well as capturing key towns and cities in Iraq.

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