Turkish troops could be used to guard a safe zone in Syria near the Turkish border to host refugees fleeing the Islamic State (ISIS) militants if an international agreement to establish such a zone is reached, the Turkish president said.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned down allegations in the Western media that his country is reluctant to get fully involved in the fight against the Islamic State.
“We will act together with the [NATO] coalition in terms of military, political and humanitarian support,” the Turkish president told Daily Sabah paper on his way home from the United Nations General Assembly meetings.
The talks are currently underway to determine the roles of the 104 states taking part in the operation, Erdogan said.
The president reminded that, unlike other coalition members, Turkey has common borders with areas in Syria occupied by the Islamic State.
“Parliament will pass a mandate… on October 2, and we will take all necessary precautions to secure our borders, including military engagement,” he said.
Erdogan stressed that “Turkish military alone” will be able to protect the country’s borders from the jihadists.
Among the “necessary precautions” needed to be taken in order to cope with the ISIS threat, he named the creation of the safe zone for the refugees.
“1.5 million people have fled from war to our country. We propose the establishment of a safe zone on the Syrian border for these people,” the President said.
Once the safe zone is set up, it can be secured by establishing “a no fly-zone” and the “military will protect it,” he added.
According to Erdogan, the creation of the safe haven for Syrian refugees will be discussed by the members of the anti-ISIS coalition.
“The US was at first, a bit standoffish, but I believe they are now onboard,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turkish territory is affected by the Islamic State’s offensive as four mortar shells landed on Turkish side of the border on Saturday, injuring two people.
Authorities in the border province of Sanliurfa have blocked the main road to the Syrian border as security worsens in the area, Reuters reports.
During the last week, the jihadists have been fighting Kurdish forces for the Syrian town of Kobani near the Turkish border.
The assault continues despite the US-led coalition launching more airstrikes against the Islamists on Saturday.
The airstrikes destroyed an ISIS building and two armed vehicles near Kobani, the US Central Command said.
An airfield, garrison and training camp near the IS stronghold of Raqqa were also among the targets damaged by the coalition’s warplanes and drones.
The US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE conducted six airstrikes in Syria during the day.
Three airstrikes also took place in Iraq, destroying four ISIS armored vehicles and a “fighting position” southwest of Arbil, the Central Command added.
The United States has been carrying out strikes in Iraq since August 8, with the Syrian operation, in which the Arab allies are involved, starting on Tuesday without approval from the country’s authorities.
The airstrikes are aimed at “degrading and destroying” the Islamist militants, who have announced the creation of caliphate on large territories it captured in Syria and Iraq.