US to Push Turkey in Fight against ISIS

US to Push Turkey in Fight against ISIS
Sat Nov 22, 2014 10:44:39

United States Vice President Joe Biden on Friday became the latest in a parade of US officials trying to push Turkey to step up its role in the international coalition's fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) extremists who have captured swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Friday in Istanbul, Biden said “one of the great advantages of being back in Turkey with a friend and a NATO ally, is that we are always direct with one another."

Biden's visit to Turkey follows weeks of public bickering between the two NATO allies.Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists if the US wants his help, it must focus less on fighting ISIS militants and more on toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Erdogan wants the US-led coalition to set up a security zone in northern Syria to give what he calls “moderate fighters” a place to recoup and launch attacks.

The US does not want a war with Assad and has said a no-fly zone against Syria's air force is not an option.Turkey has pledged to train and equip “moderate Syrian forces” on its soil, but no details have been announced by either side.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said, the fight against the ISIS required "true and sincere international cooperation."

He said "ISIS has not come out of thin air," adding that "ISIS came to cap accumulating wrong-headed policies by parties involved in the war against Syria that have supported, armed and funded terrorist and militant organizations to undermine Syria,".

US and Turkish officials have discussed the coalition's desire to use Turkey's Incirlik Air Base for US-led operations against “IS” militants, but Turkey has made no public decision about Incirlik.

Biden is expected to meet on Saturday with President Erdogan before flying back to Washington on Sunday.Davutoglu met Biden after visiting Iraq's Kurdistan capital of Erbil Friday, vowing to provide more support to safeguard the region from the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

It is the second stop for Davutoglu after Baghdad on Thursday as part of an official visit to Iraq. He met with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi for talks on boosting bilateral relations and fighting the IS group.

In talks with the Kurdish region's President Masoud Barazani, Davutoglu said Turkey will offer more support to the region in the battle against terrorism, promising to conduct more joint military training.

Addressing the IS onslaught in Syrian town of Kobani, Davutoglu said allowing Iraqi armed forces to enter Kobane freely through Turkey was a reflection of good military relations between two countries, and Barazani said they might send more troops to Kobani depending on how the ground battles proceed forward.

The last visit by a Turkish prime minister was made in March 2011 and relations since have worsened.

Davutoglu's visit followed earlier visit by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari who came to Ankara to meet Turkish officials that aimed at patching up the strained ties between the two neighbors.


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