Anti-ISIL operation in planning stage, Turkish FM says
AA photoA joint Turkey and U.S. operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is still in the planning stage, Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu has said, while elaborating on parallel remarks by his U.S. counterpart, which were also confirmed by Turkish officials.
“We have some plans to end the Daesh presence in areas controlled by Daesh at our border,” the minister told Anadolu Agency, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.
“Once these plans are finalized, our operations will continue to a greater dimension. You will observe this in the upcoming days,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Nov. 17 that the two countries would start an operation to complete the securing of the northern Syrian border, which has been used in the past by ISIL militants. The statement was also confirmed by Sinirlioğlu, with Turkish military and diplomatic sources telling Hürriyet that Kerry was referring to “a cleaning operation” to be conducted in a 98-kilometer long zone on the so-called “Marea-Jarablus line,” underlining that the campaign would kick off soon.
“The entire border of northern Syria – 75 percent of it has now been shut off. And we are entering an operation with the Turks to shut off the other remaining 98 kilometers,” he said in an interview with CNN.
“As Mr. Kerry said, there is still a Daesh presence along some parts of the Turkish border,” Sinirlioğlu said.
“We will not permit this presence,” he said, adding that some measures had been taken against any threat by Daesh.
The precautions were taken in coordination with the allies in the anti-ISIL coalition he added, avoiding giving further details of the plan.
Responding to a question on Kerry’s choice of the word “operation,” Siniriloğlu said this was a word also used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and himself.
“We have been conducting an air operation in that region with the U.S.,” he said.
The majority at the Vienna meetings last week agreed that President Bashar al-Assad had no place in Syria’s future, Sinirlioğlu added.
Still, the U.S. and Russia have not totally agreed on the matter, according to the most recent statements by officials from the two countries.
Russia said Nov. 18 that that following the carnage in Paris, it was now clear that global powers should unite without any preconditions regarding the fate of Syria’s embattled leader, al-Assad.
“It seems to me there are no longer any doubts that it is simply unacceptable to put forward any preconditions for joining forces in the fight against terror,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after meeting his counterpart from Lebanon, Gebran Bassil, in Moscow.
However, on Nov. 17, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said the U.S. has “our strong views on al-Assad, on other groups.”
“We’ve been very clear about saying that this needs to be – these need to be groups that are acceptable to both sides so that we can have a functional process set up, at least, to a political resolution,” Toner said.