Washington and Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Washington has rejected Turkey’s conditions over its involvement in the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have stressed in recent days Turkey’s involvement in the fight against ISIS would be conditional upon ground troops being deployed in Syria, the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Syrian territory near the Turkish border, and the creation of a safe zone inside Syria.
But US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday that establishing a safe zone or a no-fly zone was “not an active part of our [the coalition’s] consideration,” also stressing that in terms of ground operations, the US would not be “playing that role.”
Meanwhile, reacting to Ankara’s position, the main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, said in a press release: “What are being referred to in the media as Turkey’s conditions for joining the international coalition against ISIS are not in reality conditions at all, but are instead essential requirements for fighting terrorism in the region.”
George Sabra, the president of the Coalition, told Asharq Al-Awsat the Syrian opposition welcomed Ankara’s conditions, maintaining “the opposition had called for these demands long before the Turks did.”
He said setting up a safe zone within Turkish territory was “our [the Coalition’s] project, and would provide a huge service to the cause of the Syrian revolution.”
The safe zone would, he said, form a haven for Syrian refugees and an area from which the Coalition and the opposition interim government could base operations inside Syria, adding that both have been “planning for a long time to enter Syrian territory and work from there.”
Additional reporting from Beirut by Caroline Akoum.