U.S., Turkey agree to forge ‘ISIS-free zone’ in Syria
Any joint military efforts between Washington and Ankara will not include the imposition of a no-fly zone
The United States and Turkey have agreed to work together to clear the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from northern Syria, a senior U.S. official said Monday, according to Agence France-Presse.
“The goal is to establish an ISIS-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey’s border with Syria,” the official said.
The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, was speaking during a visit to Ethiopia by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The official said that details of the zone "remain to be worked out," but that "any joint military efforts will not include the imposition of a no-fly zone" -- a long standing Turkish demand.
It would however entail Turkey supporting U.S. "partners on the ground" who are fighting against ISIS.
The pledge comes after a week of deadly violence in Turkey that the authorities blamed on both Kurdish PKK separatists and ISIS.
The violence included a suicide attack that killed 32 people and car bomb that killed two Turkish soldiers.
Ankara responded with a wave of attacks on ISIS targets in Syria and Kurdish targets in Iraq.
Kurds living in belt that spans Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran have long advocated independence, something Ankara has roundly rejected.
Publicly, the U.S. has given tacit backing to Turkey’s actions, saying Ankara “has a right to take action related to terrorist targets.”
But there is concern that sustained attacks could cause a rift with Kurdish regional authorities in Iraq, who are a key partner in fighting the Islamic State inside that country.