British Defense Secretary said on Thursday his country will train the so-called Syrian “moderate” opposition militants in Turkey in a bid to fight the Takfiri group, ISIL.
“Defeating ISIL ultimately lies with local forces and we are helping to create effective ground forces in Syria, as well as in Iraq, so they can take the fight to ISIL,” Michael Fallon said.
Britain is already training Iraqi and Kurdish forces in Iraq, and in December, Fallon said the numbers of personnel deployed was expected to be in “the very low hundreds”.
About 75 military trainers and staff will provide training in areas such as the use of small arms, infantry tactics and medical skills, as part of a US-led training program that is expected to begin within weeks.
The Syrian militants will be trained in Turkey and other regional countries that are part of the international coalition against IS militants, who last year took over swathes of Iraq and Syria and announced a “caliphate”.
“Britain remains at the forefront of coalition military efforts to support the Iraqi government in their fight against ISIL,” Fallon said in a statement to parliament.
“This effective and closely coordinated activity in conjunction with Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces has largely stalled the terrorists’ advances.
“But ISIL must be defeated in both Iraq and Syria.”
Fallon also announced that Britain would be sending two Sentinel aircraft to the region to provide surveillance of ISIL activity in Iraq, and track the laying of bombs.