(Reuters) – Turkey signaled it may send troops into Syria or Iraq and let allies use Turkish bases to fight Islamic State, as coalition jets launched air strikes on Wednesday on insurgents besieging a town on its southern border with Syria.
The government sent a proposal to parliament late on Tuesday which would broaden existing powers and allow Ankara to order military action to “defeat attacks directed towards our country from all terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria“.
The proposal would also mean Turkey, until now reluctant to take a frontline role against Islamic State, could allow foreign forces to use its territory for cross-border incursions.
The Islamic State advance to within sight of the Turkish army on the border has piled pressure on the NATO member to play a greater role in the U.S.-led military coalition carrying out air strikes against the insurgents in Syria and Iraq.
The militants are encroaching on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, which lies in northern Syria but which Ankara considers sovereign territory and has made clear it will defend.
A column of black smoke rose from the southeastern side of Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish border town under siege by Islamic State for more than two weeks, as jets roared overhead, a Reuters correspondent on the Turkish side said.
“(They) hit a village that is four to five kilometers (two to three miles) southeast of Kobani and we heard they destroyed one (Islamic State) tank,” Parwer Mohammed Ali, a translator with the Kurdish PYD group, told Reuters by telephone from Kobani, known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic.