Turkey says it cannot go into ground battle with Islamic State militants alone

Turkish officials said they cannot be expected to conduct a ground operation against Islamic State militants in Syria on their own.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday at a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that talks about Turkey’s contributions to fighting the militants are ongoing.

Turkey is facing pressure to intervene in Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, a Syrian town just across the Turkish border where the Islamic State group has been battling Kurdish fighters for weeks.

Military action authorized

Turkey’s parliament has authorized military action in Syria and Iraq, but Turkish forces have not carried out any actions against the militants.

Stoltenberg said the Islamic State group poses a threat to Syria, Iraq, Turkey and to NATO nations.

“So it is important that the whole international community stays united in this long-term effort. I welcome the decisive actions taken by the United States with many allies and partners and I welcome the recent vote in the Turkish parliament to authorize an even more active role of Turkey in the crisis,” Stoltenberg said.

He also said a no-fly zone or buffer zone in the region is not yet under consideration.

US, Turkish officials to meet

Two U.S. officials — retired General John Allen and Ambassador Brett McGurk — are meeting Thursday and Friday with Turkish officials to push for help in combating the militants.

Meanwhile, U.S.-led airstrikes continued Thursday in Kobani. Despite the bombings, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Islamic State fighters now control more than one-third of the town.

Also Thursday, Australia’s military said its warplanes conducted their first airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq overnight.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stressed the need to help the Iraqi government battle militants who kill everyone who does not share their “narrow, divisive and sectarian ideology.”

“This is a death cult that has declared war on the world. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with religion. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with the freedom of oppressed people. It is a group which has declared war on the world, which is killing without compunction,” said Abbott.

Australia is one of a group of countries that have joined the United States in carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State group, which it first began in August in Iraq before expanding last month into Syria.

Source: VOANews.com

(Photo of Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu: Nato.int)