Turkey’s foreign minister has said that the West cannot expect it to lead a military ground operation against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria alone.
Turkey has been under intense international pressure to intervene to protect the Kurdish city of Kobane, which is situated a few hundred metres from the Syria-Turkey border, from advancing IS forces. Turkey has mobilised a tank unit to the border, but has not interfered in the fighting around Kobane, despite around 180,000 residents of the city fleeing to Turkey.
IS is now reported to control of the east of Kobane after a three week siege and days of urban combat with Kurdish YPG fighters, who are fighting alongside approximately 300 Free Syrian Army forces in the city.
After discussions with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference:
“It is not realistic to expect Turkey to conduct a ground operation on its own…We are holding talks. Once there is a common decision, Turkey will not hold back from playing its part.”
Turkey is weary of arming or militarily supporting the Kurdish forces over the border after fighting a decades-long civil war with the Kurdish minority within Turkey. However, the fragile peace reached between the Kurdish minority and Istanbul has become increasingly unstable in recent days, as thousands of Kurds have taken to the streets in cities across Turkey to protest Istanbul’s lack of intervention. Clashes between protesters and police have left at least 12 people dead.