U.S. holds ‘active conversation’ with Turkey on Syria role

Kurdish boy, being displaced with his family from Syrian city of Kobane, arrives at the Turkish border in a state of panic, following IS attacks against his hometown. File photo

ARA News

On Tuesday, the United States stepped up discussions with Turkey over Ankara’s role in a U.S.-led coalition that is fighting Islamic State militants, who are closing in on a key Syrian city on the Turkish border.

NATO member Turkey has not joined the U.S.-led coalition against the Sunni insurgents, saying the campaign should also remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has ramped up its offensive in recent days against the Kurdish border city of Kobani despite U.S.-led air strikes, and this has increased pressure on Turkey to act.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken twice in recent days with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, once on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a regular briefing.

“Turkey is determining what larger role they will play going forward and that conversation is ongoing,” Psaki said. “They have indicated their openness to doing that, so there is an active conversation about that.”

Retired General John Allen, the envoy charged by U.S. President Barack Obama with building the coalition against the Islamic State, and his deputy Brett McGurk will be in Turkey later this week for talks, Psaki said.

Psaki said several U.S. air strikes in the Kobani area had destroyed three Islamic State armed vehicles and damaged another, while others had destroyed anti-aircraft artillery and damaged a tank.

She said several Syrian opposition groups had formed de-facto coalitions and were “working together to push back and hold back to the degree they can” advances by the militants.


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