On the way to visit several Southeast Asian countries, British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters on Monday that “the pace is quickening and the pressure growing” against ISIS, while praising Turkey’s contributions to the campaign against the militant group.
Cameron expressed happiness with the anti-ISIS aerial operations recently launched by Turkey and Ankara’s decision to allow US-led anti-ISIS coalition forces to use the Incirlik air base during a press conference on a plane to Indonesia
“It is good that Turkey is stepping up its action against ISIL [ISIS] and ISIL targets. I think there is more we can do in terms of cooperation on counter-terrorism, particularly stopping foreign fighters from going through Turkey into Syria,” Cameron said.
Following the death of a Turkish military serviceman due to gunfire from Syria in Turkey’s southern border town of Kilis on Friday, the Turkish Armed Force (TAF) launched an air operation targeting ISIS militants positioned near the Turkish border.
The Turkish F-16 fighter jets did not violate Syrian airspace and fired their guided missiles from Turkish airspace at ISIS targets in Syrian territory under sovereign rights derived from international law regarding border security measures.
Cameron noted the incident and supported Turkey’s move against militant position on its border with Syria, stating that Ankara’s contribution to the anti-ISIS campaign would accelerate international efforts to destroy militancy in the region.
“Frankly, what is happening, the pace is quickening and the pressure is growing on ISIL, and you will soon see what the Turks are doing. Britain is keeping up the pace ... and we are all working to put the squeeze on ISIL, which has to be degraded and then destroyed,” Cameron added.
Cameron has stated that he and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu had talked in a phone call during which they agreed to enhance anti-ISIS cooperation by attempting to create a safe zone in northern Syria.
When he was asked about Turkey’s simultaneous operations against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq, Cameron said “We want the focus to be on ISIL. It is important that Turkey made these steps and we will encourage them to do that.”
Turkey has long been criticised by Western countries over the management of its porous border with Syria. Militants have in the past travelled from Europe to Turkey and then across into Iraq and Syria through Turkey’s borders, causing concern between Turkey and its allies.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has stated several times that allegations of mismanagement were unjust and were part of a “propaganda” campaign intending to paint the country as a supporter of militancy in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey has also accused EU countries of not providing it adequate information and of reluctance in intelligence sharing and cooperation concerning Europeans suspected of travelling to Turkey with the aim of joining ISIS.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared last week that security measures at the Syrian border had been tightened following an explosion in the southeastern Turkish border town of Suruc in which 32 people were killed.
Davutoglu stressed on Tuesday that Turkey has so far denied entry to more than 10,000 foreigners suspected of attempting to enter the country in order to travel to Syria and Iraq.
Recent developments in Syria’s northern areas on the Turkish border have raised concern in Ankara over both the advance of ISIS and attempts by the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Defense Units’ (YPG) to establish a “Kurdish corridor” along the border.
The YPG is the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian affiliate of the PKK. Nearly 40,000 people believed to have been killed in the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish state since the early 1980s.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated several times that Ankara would never allow the formation of a Kurdish state along Turkey’s southern border with Syria.