Turkey says US not meeting its conditions for bigger Syria role
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday expressed frustration that the US and its allies were not responding to conditions set for his country to play a greater role in the coalition against militants in Syria.
Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday expressed frustration that the US and its allies were not responding to conditions set for his country to play a greater role in the coalition against militants in Syria.
His complaint came as a US special presidential envoy, John Allen, visited Ankara for previously unannounced talks with Turkish officials.
Turkey wants the United States to help train and equip a large contingent of rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and also wants to creation of a long security zone inside Syria along the Turkish border.
But speaking to reporters at Ankara airport before heading on a trip to Africa, Erdogan said that the coalition "had not made the steps we asked them for".
Turkey has so far refused to play a full role in the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL) jihadists who have captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border.
Ankara says it wants a security zone to be put in place, a no-fly zone imposed, and the United States to adopt a strategy to bring down Assad before Turkey can step up its involvement.
Erdogan said that the "parties have not taken any decisive steps towards the train-and-equip plan" for FSA fighters.
"From the no-fly zone to the safety zone, and training and equipping, all these steps have to be taken now.
"But the coalition forces haven`t taken the steps we asked them for or suggested to them."
He signalled Turkey would not change its position unless its conditions were fulfilled. "Of course Turkey will maintain its stance until this process has been completed."
So far, Turkey`s sole contribution to the coalition has been allowing a contingent of Iraqi peshmerga Kurdish fighters to transit Turkish soil to fight IS militants for the Syrian border town of Kobane.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Ankara confirmed that special presidential envoy Allen was visiting Ankara, saying: "He is meeting with senior Turkish officials as part of ongoing discussions about countering the ISIL threat."