Turkey, U.S. speeding up talks on giving arms to Syrian rebels

June 21, 2013 at 3:54 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, June 21 (UPI) -- Turkey and the United States say they have accelerated talks on how to deliver arms to Syrian rebels since Washington decided to supply them with military aid.

Turkey has a long border with Syria, making it one of the most likely routes for moving the weapons to the Free Syrian Army, Hurriyet Daily News reported Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has exchanged phone calls with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu twice this week in advance of a meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People Saturday in Doha, Qatar.

They also are expected to meet in Doha, their first meeting since relations between the countries became strained by demonstrations across Turkey.

Technical experts from both countries are also in discussions about the best way to deliver American weapons to the FSA. Some Syrian rebels have attended these meetings, Hurriyet said.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official noted the reversal of U.S. policy on providing arms to the rebels already has had repercussions. After the change was announced, he said, 77 senior Syrian army officials defected, including several four-star generals.

The Doha meeting will discuss the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone over Syria and the use of chemical weapons, Davutoglu said Wednesday.

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