Turkey Taking Military Action Against ISIS
After almost ten months of intensive discussions with the Turkish government on a possible US-Turkey joint coalition to battle ISIS, Turkish lawmakers voted to authorize military force against the terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
The authorization included allowing the Turkish military to go after ISIS and other terror groups, and also allow foreign troops, particularly USA, to launch operations from Turkey.
This new move by Turkey was confirmed by Deputy Special Representative Brett McGurk for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL during an interview with Charlie Rose of PBS
According to Ambassador McGurk, Turkey agreed to open up their bases for American aircraft to strike ISIS targets in Syria and in Iraq with Turkish F-16s flying alongside the United States.
In addition, Ambassador McGurk highlighted that it will be of significant advantage for American airstrikes to have access to Turkish bases.
“That 90-kilometer stretch of border is significant because ISIL is really reinforced there and it’s just a huge, strategic asset for them.” – Ambassador McGurk
For the past two months, US has been striking targets in that area but they were flying from the Gulf, or Bahrain or other platforms which are a thousand miles away. With the opening of Incirlik airbase, which is about 150 kilometers away, it would make a significant difference.
“It’s something that, you know, our military commanders have always said would make a real difference.” – Ambassador McGurk
With Turkish bases now open to American and other US-led coaliton forces against ISIL, it will allow them to put pressure on the group in these very strategic areas on a 24/7 basis.
“That’s why we worked very aggressively, diplomatically to try to get this opening.” – Ambassador McGurk
ISIS Now on Turkey’s Doorstep
Turkish leaders were alarmed by recent reports that ISIS militants are capturing villages near the border of Turkey especially the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani. In fact, thousands of residents in Kobani were ordered to evacuate last week.
According to media reports, ISIS militants have seized more than 350 villages in the past two weeks which displaced 300,000 people from Kobani.
ISIS Brings Terror In Iraq
The rebel fighters belong to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
The terroristic moves were not something new for ISIS – the group has been known for its insurgency operations in Nineveh and other provinces.
Mosul was the second city to be seized by ISIS militants in 2014. The Iraqi government lost control of Fallujah earlier in 2014.
With the raging aggression in Mosul, the International Organization for Migration estimated at that time, the number of people displaced by violence in Mosul and surrounding areas of Ninewa governorate reached 500,000.
Note that many in the west call this group ISIL, but that is a western name for them.
ISIS is composed largely of non-Syrian fighters and is believed to be made up of tens of thousands of fighters in Syria. The group gets its funding from oil revenue and wealthy donors in the Arab Gulf states.
In August 2014, Assyrians in the US were reporting that ISIS was killing their families and friends in Iraq. WGN TV in Chicago reported that “The largest group of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq lives in Chicago.”
Today, the fourth Washington plenary session of 62 Coalition ambassadors met. At the meeting, The State Department reports Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John R. Allen briefed senior diplomatic representatives.
They reviewed progress in their effort, reaffirmed support for Iraq, and discussed ways to enhance cooperation towards their goal.
Included in their discussions were the developments with Turkey.
General Allen briefed the Plenary on Coalition progress and provided an overview report on the Coalition Small Group meeting in Quebec, held on July 30.
The State Department said in a release:
Building on conversations in Quebec, Coalition partners discussed how to further strengthen, accelerate and integrate work, including ongoing support for stabilization operations in Iraq, enhancing humanitarian aid, increasing information sharing to counter foreign fighter flows and cut off ISIL revenues, and integrating support for women and children who have survived ISIL’s brutality.