US lobbies Turkey over fight against IS

John Kerry presses Turkish leaders to support military action against the Islamic State group.

The CIA estimates between 20,000 and 31,500 people are fighting with the Islamic State group [Reuters]

The US has pressed Turkey to support military action against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, a day after Ankara said it would not allow its air bases to be used for combat operations.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, arrived in the Turkish capital on Friday for talks with president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, to win support for armed operations.

After a two-hour meeting between Erdogan and Kerry, the president’s office said: “The two countries will continue to fight against the terrorist organisations in the regions.”

Turkey will continue to share intelligence the US, give logistical support to Syrian opposition groups and humanitarian aid to victims of the war, the statement added.

US officials played down hopes of persuading Ankara to take a significant military role, saying the talks would focus on issues including Turkey’s efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters crossing its border and its role in providing humanitarian assistance.

Turkey has so far conspicuously avoided committing to Barack Obama’s plan to strike areas held by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL, in Syria and Iraq.

ISIL kidnapped 49 Turks, including some diplomats from the Turkish consulate, in Mosul in June.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Istanbul, said Turkey ruled out the US coalition using the Incirlik airbase over fears of retaliation by ISIL against the hostages.

Kerry’s visit comes a day after 10 Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, agreed to rally behind the US in the fight against ISIL.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon areparties to the agreement.

The fight aim to stop recruitment, financing and violent acts by the group.

It would also include humanitarian relief, and the US has pledged an additional $500m for victims of the Syria conflict.

Also on Friday, French president Francois Hollande said his decision to supply arms to the autonomous Kurdish government was decisive in the fight against IS in Iraq.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies