Turkey has agreed to allow the United States-led coalition to use its military bases in the fight against the Islamic State and to use Turkish territory as part of a training program for Syrian opposition fighters, the Washington Post reported.
“That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome,” Susan Rice, US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, told US broadcaster NBC.
Defense officials said they expect clearance to use Incirlik Air Base, a US-built facility near Turkey’s border with Syria, for airstrikes against the Islamist militants.
A Defense Department planning team is expected to travel to Turkey this week to finalize the plans, according to the newspaper.
Rice said Turkey has joined Saudi Arabia, with which it has strained relations, in agreeing to the training program. “They have said that their facilities inside of Turkey can be used by the coalition forces — American and otherwise — to engage in activities inside of Iraq and Syria,” she said.
US officials have said it will take several months to vet up to 5,000 opposition fighters, and up to an additional eight months to complete their training.
Turkey had been reluctant to sign on to the coalition against the Islamic State, which it believes has diverted attention from the effort to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the report said.
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