FM Çavuşoğlu: US, Turkey to launch ‘comprehensive’ anti-ISIS operation
ANKARAAug 24, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Aug 24, 2015 12:00 am
Turkey and the United States will soon launch "comprehensive" air operations to flush ISIS fighters from a zone in northern Syria bordering Turkey, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu told Reuters on Monday.
Detailed talks between Washington and Ankara on the plans were completed on Sunday, and regional allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, as well as Britain and France may also take part, Çavuşoğlu said in an interview.
"The technical talks have been concluded, yesterday, and soon we will start this operation, comprehensive operations, against Daesh (ISIS)," he said.
The United States and Turkey plan to provide air cover for what Washington judges to be moderate Syrian rebels as part of the operations, which aim to flush ISIS from a rectangle of border territory roughly 80 km (50 miles) long, officials familiar with the plans have said.
Diplomats say cutting ISIS's access to the Turkish border, across which it has been able to bring foreign fighters and supplies, could be a game-changer. U.S. jets have already begun air strikes from Turkish bases in advance of the campaign.
Çavuşoğlu said the operations would also send a message to President Bashar al-Assad and help put pressure on his administration to come to the negotiating table and seek a political solution for Syria's wider war.
Separately, the Turkish foreign minister said he welcomed the normalization of Iran's relations with some Western countries in the wake of its nuclear deal, but said Tehran now needed to take a "more constructive role" in regional crises including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Turkey's military operations against PKK militants in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey, where Ankara has been carrying out air strikes over the past month, would continue until the group laid down its weapons, Çavuşoğlu also said.
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Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University