Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Syrian opposition groups will be trained and equipped by a joint U.S.-Turkey program that will also fight against the Syrian regime.
The trained Syrian opposition members are “expected to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] and elements of the [Syrian] regime,” Çavuşoğlu said Feb. 19th to answer whether the program also aims to struggle against Syrian regime forces. Turkey and the U.S. were on the same page on this issue, Çavuşoğlu said.
The trained Syrian opposition members would “naturally fight against elements threatening the integrity of Syria,” he said, noting that both “terrorist organizations, especially ISIL and the Syrian regime, are a threat to Syria’s stability. … They both kill innocent people,” he said.
The train-equip deal between Turkey and the U.S. is at the last stage and will be signed shortly, Çavuşoğlu said while speaking at a joint press conference with Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hashim Thaçi.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be sealed within several days, a Turkish official said.
Turkey insists the struggle should not only be directed against ISIL militants, but also against Syrian regime forces.
Meanwhile, citing U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura’s plan to freeze the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, Çavuşoğlu said Turkey supported the envoy’s plan despite its “flaws” because even one day of a cease-fire would prevent the killing of hundreds of people. He questioned whether the cease-fire would be practiced by the regime forces.
“A rooted solution is needed in Syria,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The Syrian Coalition’s political committee convening in Istanbul today praises the US-Turkish efforts to train and equip elements of the FSA and empowering them in the battle against the terrorism of both the Assad regime and ISIS. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Anadolu Agency)