Turkey: Syria land operation possible but not alone

Turkey: Syria land operation possible but not alone

Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
Turkey: Syria land operation possible but not alone

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) sitting across CNN International's Christiane Amanpour (L) in an interview on Nov. 9, 2015. AA Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said a ground forces operation in Syria could be possible but Turkey would not conduct such an operation alone, speaking in an interview with CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour on Nov. 9. 

“[A] ground forces [campaign] is something which we have to talk [about] together and share. As I told you in our last interview, there’s a need of an integrated strategy, including an air campaign and ground troops,” Davutoğlu told Amanpour on Nov. 9. 

“But Turkey alone cannot take on this burden. If there’s a coalition and a very well designed integrated strategy, Turkey is ready to take part in all senses,” he added.

Davutoğlu confirmed once again that he was talking about a possible ground forces operation after Amanpour asked if the strategy also included “the ground.” 

“Yes, of course,” Davutoğlu answered.

He said that without an integrated strategy for Syria, which was needed, another terrorist group could emerge apart from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

“We have to solve the Syrian crisis in a comprehensive manner,” Davutoğlu said. 

According to Turkish security sources who spoke to daily Hürriyet on condition of anonymity, it was not considered a warm option for the Turkish Armed Forces to enter Syrian territory for a land operation against ISIL without a decision taken in the international arena, either with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) or the NATO Council. The inclusion of coalition forces in these international decisions is also being sought for Turkey to take part in a ground forces campaign, the sources said.

Since civil war erupted in Syria, sources said, Turkey has been making plans on various scenarios, which included launching a land operation, and were making the necessary changes to them according to new developments. The sources said it was “normal” for Turkey to conduct such plans. 

If an attack is launched directly towards Turkey from the Syrian side, then Turkey would respond to this attack without seeking a decision from the UNSC or NATO, according to the sources. 

Turkey could launch a special forces unit operation into the area in Syria where a attack on Turkey was launched from, but this would be a limited campaign and it could not be regarded as an extensive operation, the security sources said. 

Sources added Turkey would be more involved in airstrikes under a coalition led by the U.S.

Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioğlu’s words last week in Iraq’s Arbil on the possibility of Turkey having “plans to militarily take action against ISIL” could be regarded in this perception, the sources said. 

Turkey also needed to take into consideration Russia when making plans on a ground operation in Syria, they said.