The U.S. and Turkey have signed an agreement to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group, the U.S. Embassy said Thursday. U.S Ambassador John Bass and Feridun Sinirlioglu, senior Turkish Foreign Ministry undersecretary, signed the deal Thursday evening, U.S. Embassy spokesman Joe Wierichs said in Ankara Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
Under the agreement, U.S. officials plan to train about 5,000 fighters a year for three years as part of its fight against ISIS. Turkey and the U.S. have been in talks about such a plan for months and the Turkish government has said the training could begin as early as next month. The fighters will be trained in the central Turkish town of Kirsehir. The U.S. military has said it is planning to send more than 400 troops to train Syrian moderates at sites outside Syria as part of the fight against Islamic State militants.
Turkey expects the trained rebels also will fight the Syrian regime, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a press conference Tuesday. The U.S. has screened around 1,200 moderate Syrian rebels to participate in training in Turkey, Saudia Arabia and Qatar, the U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday.