Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the ‘train-equip’ programme for moderate Syrian opposition would begin soon, explaining the earlier set date of May 9 was delayed due to “technical difficulties” experienced rather than a disagreement with US government.
Speaking at a television interview on Tuesday night, Cavusoglu reminded the decisions to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition was taken jointly by Turkey and the US, and said, “the decisions regarding training on involving who, how and where it will be located is made together with the US government. There has been a delay but it was due to difference in opinion.”
Turkey and the US had signed an agreement to train moderate oppositions against the Assad Regime in Syria on Feb. 17.
Foreign minister also informed the first group of US staff that will provide the training that had already been determined but “the delay was due to difficulties experienced in transfer of the soldiers and the equipment as a result of the distance.”
In response to a question, if Turkey has made a request for a no-fly zone or safe fly zone within Syria, Cavusoglu said, “in order for ground teams to succeed, a safe air protection is needed. As long as Assad regime continues air strikes, the troops that are trained on the ground may be destroyed. We cannot just train and leave them unprotected.”
Minister also noted similar training programmes towards the Syrian opposition will be carried out in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, while the regime is still being supported by Iran and Russia.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu mentioned that the NATO Foreign Ministers Summit will be held in Turkey’s southern coastal city of Antalya on May 13-14 where exclusive meetings will take place regarding issues particularly covering Afghanistan, Ukraine, northern Europe.