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Turkey to train Syrian rebels, but at what cost?

As talks continue for the use of Turkish bases in airstrikes against the Islamic State, Ankara agrees to train Syrian rebels in a move that increases the risk of Turkey’s Pakistanization.
U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with retired Marine Corps General John Allen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington September 16, 2014. Obama has chosen retired Allen, who served as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to coordinate international efforts to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Allen is named as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition against ISIL, the acronym the administration used for the Sunni Islamist movement.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron
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Turkey’s role in the coalition against the Islamic State (IS) has begun to take shape following talks in Ankara between Turkish leaders and US President Barack Obama’s special envoy John Allen and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk. Simultaneous meetings were held in Washington between US officials and Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. Officials reached an agreement on training “moderate” Syrian rebels, while negotiations continue on the use of Turkish airbases.

Surprisingly, the deal on the “train-and-equip” program was made public by Washington, not Ankara. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Oct. 9, “Turkey has agreed to support train-and-equip efforts for the moderate Syrian opposition.” While confirming the training deal, Ankara sounded circumspect on the possible use of the Incirlik air base.

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