The Turkish military is training 150 militants in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib on man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on January 9.
According to the London-based monitoring group, the training course is being held at a Turkish military camp near the town of Almastumah in the southern countryside of Idlib.
“The current stage will be to provide theoretical lessons on how to use them [MANPADs], and it will be followed in the coming days by a practical course,” the SOHR’s report reads.
The SOHR didn’t reveal the exact type of MANPADs the militants are being train on. The most likely options are the US-developed FIM-92 Stinger, which is being produced locally in Turkey by ROKETSAN, or the Chinse made FN-6, which was supplied to Syrian militants by Turkey and Qatar early on in the war.
During the 2019-200 battle of Greater Idlib, the Turkish military used MANPADs against Syrian and even Russian warplanes. Only two Syrian Mi-17 helicopters were shot down.
Last year, Turkish forces in Greater Idlib trained around 200 militants on the use of anti-tank weapons and some 400 others on armored vehicles and battle tanks. All the training courses were held in Almastumah camp, one of the largest Turkish positions in the region.
The Turkish military buildup in Greater Idlib may soon provoke a fierce response from Syrian government forces and their allies, who are not happy with the situation in the region.