Turkey prepared for military role in anti-IS coalition: Erdogan
AFP - 9/27/2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could take a military role in the coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants as Ankara moves to take a frontline position in the campaign, the Hurriyet daily reported Saturday. In comments made aboard his presidential plane to Turkish reporters as he travelled back from the United States, Erdogan also indicated he backed the use of ground troops inside Syria, Hurriyet reported on its website. Erdogan already signaled at a news conference Friday after his return from New York that Turkey was shifting its position to adopt a more front line role in the fight against IS. But the comments aboard the plane strongly indicated Turkey will move to play a military role once the government wins approval from parliament at a planned debate on October 2.
"It's wrong to say that Turkey will not take any kind of military position. Turkey will do whatever is its duty to do," Erdogan said. Erdogan also reaffirmed his calls for buffer and no-fly zones to ensure the safety of Turkish borders and the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled there, indicating ground forces would be necessary for this. "You are not going to be able to finish off a terrorist group just with air strikes," he said. "At some point ground forces will be fundamental. "Of course, I am not a soldier, but air (forces) are about logistics. If ground troops do not go, then nothing is going to be permanent," he said.
An ISIS assault on the Kurdish town of Kobane, Syria has driven 140,000 Kurds to seek safety in nearby Turkey. US fighter aircraft and Kurdish Peshmerga are striking at ISIS forces in the area. The Turkish military would be a powerful and significant addition to the anti-ISIS coalition.