While Turkey’s role in efforts against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is still under discussion, Turkey has reiterated the importance of setting up a secure zone inside Syria, and the US confirmed that no agreement has yet been reached for the further use of İncirlik Air Base.
Speaking to Al Jazeera Arabic late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu outlined the borders of a possible safe zone in Syria, saying it should include regions in Idlib northern Latakia, Hasakah, Jarablus and Kobani.
He stressed that Turkey does not seek a “buffer zone” as that wording implies a military zone. He said a “safe” zone should be established, but its protection may be provided by the military.
Turkey has been drawing criticism for its inaction against ISIL. Davutoğlu responded to calls for Ankara to be involved in coalition efforts, saying the entire burden would be on Turkey’s shoulders if Turkey intervenes in Syria alone without a safe zone.
The Turkish Parliament ratified a motion earlier in October authorizing the Turkish government to deploy military troops abroad and fight terrorist groups if necessary.
The US special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL, retired Gen. John Allen, said on Wednesday that officials are still negotiating how much of a role Turkey will take in the burgeoning war on its border. He added that there are ongoing negotiations between the two countries over granting expanded use of bases to the US-led coalition forces.
US Secretary of State John Kerry also said on Tuesday there is “no discrepancy” between the US and Turkey in the fight against ISIL. Kerry, who was in Paris for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said Ankara would define its role in the fight against ISIL according to its own timetable.
Unnamed US officials over the weekend told the American press that Turkey had agreed to grant expanded access to İncirlik Air Base in Adana province, which is in close proximity to ISIL targets inside Syria and Iraq. US National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s remarks to NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on Sunday was also interpreted as that Turkey had agreed to give further access to the US to İncirlik Air Base. Turkish officials on Monday were quick to deny that there was such a deal.
Speaking to journalists, White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday stressed that the discussions over military bases in Turkey continues between US and Turkish officials… see more