Turkey, U.S. sign deal to train, equip Syrian opposition, officials say

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Turkey and the United States signed an agreement last week to later this year begin training and equipping moderate Syrian rebel forces to battle Islamic State fighters.

With airstrikes, the U.S. successfully helped Kurdish soldiers drive fighters from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, from the northern Syrian city of Kobani in January. The U.S. now plans to adopt a similar model and train moderate Syrian rebel forces. The Pentagon says the training will begin in mid-to-late March in Jordan, while a second training site will open in Turkey later this year. Additional training sites may be launched in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The Pentagon says it hopes to train 3,000 Syrian rebels by the end of this year. Teams of four to six rebels will be given a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup truck fitted with a machine gun as well as a GPS tracking system. The small fighting teams may also be provided mortars.

The communication and tracking equipment on each truck could allow rebels to request air support from the U.S. just as Kurdish forces did in Kobani when they called upon American B-1 bombers for aid against ISIS militants.

The United States remains unsure about how much it wants to be involved in Syria though, as the Obama administration is hesitant about waging warfare against the Syrian regime and militant opposition groups other than ISIS.

While the Central Intelligence Agency has run a program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels for the last several years, its program remained limited and covert. The new agreement has now publicly pledged American support for Syrian rebel forces in their fight against ISIS.

1. Americans conduct airstrikes on Kobane and ISIS militants withdraw from the city
2. Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may be the locations for new training sites
3. The U.S. will help equip Syrian rebel fighters
4. Syrian rebels could use the equipment to request America’s military aid
5. ISIS militant fighters appearing in the distance
6. U.S. bombers are able to conduct airstrikes on moving ISIS targets

VOICEOVER (in English):

U.S. and Turkey agree to train moderate Syrian rebel groups battling ISIS.

The U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement last week agreeing to jointly train and equip moderate Syrian rebel groups in their war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

United States forces conducted airstrikes in the Syrian city of Kobane in late January after Kurdish fighters requested American aid.

Following that success, the U.S. and Turkey will begin training Syrian opposition groups in Jordan, followed by training exercises in other locations in Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Each 4-6 man rebel group will be given a Toyota Hi-Lux pickup outfitted with a machine gun and a GPS system. Each group may also get a mortar.

The training program in Jordan is expected to begin next month and the new communications and GPS equipment...

...could potentially allow Syrian rebels to request U.S. assistance against ISIS militants.

American B-1 Bombers, called upon during the Kurdish attack on Kobane, are equipped with sniper pods that can accurately target moving objects.

American officials hope to train 3,000 Syrian rebels by the end of this year and another 5,000 next year.

SOURCES: Wall Street Journal, RT, Reuters