Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told Reuters the government and the U.S. agreed on a “comprehensive” air operations against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) on the border of Syria. However, U.S. officials denied any agreement took place.
“The technical talks have been concluded, yesterday, and soon we will start this operation, comprehensive operations, against Daesh (Islamic State),” declared Çavuşoğlu.
But at the Monday press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest “couldn’t confirm the results” of the ongoing talks between the NATO allies.
“At this point I can’t confirm any agreement between our two countries,” he told reporters. “As you know, senior U.S. officials and their Turkish counterparts have been engaged in discussions about how the United States and Turkey can deepen our cooperation when it comes to implementing our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
For over a year, Turkey resisted joining the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups due to their desire to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Hopeful jihadists used Turkey to slip into Syria since the civil war broke out four years ago. Turkish officials changed their mind after ISIS attacked a border town and killed over 30 people.
“Our aim should be eradicating Daesh from both Syria and Iraq, otherwise you cannot bring stability and security,” continued Çavuşoğlu. “But eliminating the root causes of the situation (in Syria) is also essential, which is the regime of course.”
However, members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq claim Turkey targets them, miles away from the intended ISIS targets in Syria. Security forces believe over 814 PKK militants died between July 22 and August 24. Turkey, the EU, and the U.S. all listed the PKK a terrorist organization years ago. These reports caused major backlash towards Turkey.
The U.S. State quickly defended their ally on Monday. State Department spokesman John Kirby is still stunned he constantly receives questions about Turkey’s alleged lack of effort.
“They’ve allowed us to use airbases now,” he stressed, adding:
They’re going to soon be flying in the coalition air tasking order, you know, inside the coalition planning cycle for air ops, and yet I continue to get questions up here, that you know, why they aren’t doing more; why aren’t they doing enough.
Here’s a nation that has two million refugees that it’s taking care of inside Syria. Significant security concerns of their own, a foreign terrorist group, like the PKK, continues to attack them, as we saw throughout the weekend.