Turkey must be partner in anti-ISIL coalition: Pentagon

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Turkey must be a partner in the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby has said, underlining the geographical importance of the country.

“Whether they contribute militarily is up to them. We did not go to Ankara with a specific request. We did go to solicit their views in the situation, and to find out what was possible for them. They offered some views of things that they might be able to do that could be helpful,” Kirby told daily Hürriyet.

“Let them speak for that. But we know just by dint of geography that Turkey is, will be, and must be a partner in this effort,” he added, suggesting that the campaign would not solely be a military one.

“This is not just a military campaign. This is a comprehensive approach. Regionally, politically, economically and militarily. There is a military component to it. But that is not the only component. And Turkey could contribute in other ways outside of the military component,” Kirby said.

“We know that Turkey has a significant national security interest in this. Every day they are dealing with over a million refugees. They have foreign fighters that they concerned about on their borders and inside Turkey. We certainly expect that Turkey will contribute, one way or another,” he added.

Kirby also confirmed that U.S. has had discussions about the buffer zone within Syria that the Turkish government wants to establish, but said he will not go into the details of the discussions. “We understand the concerns that Turks have expressed in that regard, and we are looking for ways to continue to improve our coordination and cooperation. We understand the security concerns that they’re facing. And we understand their desires for some sort of buffer zone. But I won’t go into details,” he said.

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