Debating Turkey’s Role in Inherent Resolve

Recent Turkish statements declaring the government’s intent to host training for Syrian opposition fighters are “helpful,” said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. However, he also noted that discussions with Turkey regarding the exact disposition of any train and equip effort supported by the US are “ongoing.” Turkish diplomats revealed to the Turkish state news agency on Monday that a deal to train thousands of moderate Syrian rebels on Turkish territory is close to being approved. Under the proposed plan, Turkey would host some 100 US troops to support the training activities. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, commander of US Special Operations Command Central Command, is leading the effort to figure out which groups are going to participate in the program and what they will do, Kirby said. Three countries have volunteered to host training sites thus far—Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, while other “regional partners” are also in discussions to participate in training for opposition fighters, he added. If all goes well, training activities could begin by “early spring,” said Kirby. The US and Turkey have been in negotiations for months over the specifics of the program as well as the use of Incirlik Air Base to launch anti-ISIS strikes.