US-Turkey to send second ‘train-equip’ group to Syria

US-Turkish ‘train-equip’ programme prepares to send second group from opposition groups in Syria to fight against ISIS after Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front has abducted some members of first group

Courtesy of: AA
Courtesy of: AA

Moderate Free Syrian Army forces prepare fight against ISIS militants in Azez close to Turkish border

Media reports have stated that US-Turkish “train-equip” programme has prepared to send a second group recruited from Syrian opposition groups in the country in order to speed up the fight against ISIS militants after Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front has abducted some members of the first group.

The captured fighters including their Turkmen leader, Nadim al Hasan, have been part of the "Division 30." The division has fallen apart inside Syrian territory after they entered the country on July 12 through the Turkish Oncupinar border crossing of Kilis which is located across the northern Syrian district of Azez in the province of Aleppo.

The US military had trained the first group composing of 54 fighters from Syrian opposition groups for 74 days in Turkey, Al Jazeera Turk previously reported.

Nusra’s capture of the fighters drew attention to the fact that the training programme might not have a solid fighter base to defeat ISIS on the ground in Syria and could not be powerful enough to help moderate opposition forces defend communities against the group .

An anonymous diplomatic source stated that, "Although there has been some scepticism about it, it is far too early to write off this program. Massive resources have been invested in this to make it work and we think it will work in the end," according to Reuters.

Reuters also reported that US and British military instructors are continuing to train the second group in Turkey. They will be sent to Syria when the programme has been completed in a few weeks, the report added.

Reuters report stated referring its source that US-led coalition forces aim to deploy a total of 1,000 fighters to Syria by the end of 2015.

The US military launched the programme in May, which aimed at training up to 5,400 fighters a year to combat ISIS, but with many candidates deemed ineligible and others dropping out, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter previously stated that it has fallen far behind plans.

Carter has also urged Turkey on Thursday “to do more in the fight against ISIL [ISIS],” adding that Turkey “agreed in principle” to join the bombing campaign against ISIS following the Incirlik deal brokered between the allies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu previously said a “comprehensive battle” against ISIS militant group will start soon after Turkey and the US have agreed to use the Incirlik base. The base is located 100 km (60 miles) from northwest Syrian border and Turkish airfield will also be used by the US-led coalition forces for airstrikes against the group in order to execute a joint action plan for northern Syrian issues.

A high-ranking American official described the agreement as a “game changer,” the New York Times  previously reported.

Incidentally, Reuters has also reported citing diplomats “familiar with the plans” that blocking ISIS’ access to the Turkish border could be a “game-changer.”

Turkey has accused EU countries of not providing adequate information and reluctance in intelligence sharing and cooperation concerning Europeans suspected of travelling to Turkey with the aim of joining ISIS terrorist group.

Erdogan declared this month that Turkey has so far denied entry of nearly 16,000 foreigners who were suspected of attempting to enter the country in order to travel into Syria and Iraq for joining ISIS.



TRTWorld and agencies