Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Thursday has said that his government will not drag Turkey into unchartered territory (referring to Syria) unless the country’s national security is threatened.
Speaking during an interview with a Turkish TV channel, Davutoglu reassured Turkey’s stance on the current situation in Syria.
He said Turkey will not intervene militarily unless it is directly threatened, putting all doubts to rest on the issue of Turkey’s speculated intervention into Syria.
‘‘We will not take any steps that would drag Turkey into an adventure. We have taken precautions against circumstance where Turkey would be threatened beyond its borders,’’ Davutoglu said.
‘‘We have ordered for the necessary precautions to be taken for a situation that may arise beyond our borders, but this should definitely not be regarded as Turkey entering Syria.’’
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said it has been taking “necessary measures” to tighten the security along the Syrian border after the National Security Council (MGK) discussed a possible cross-border operation into northern Syria and announced the “red lines” against the clashing militant groups and the Syrian regime in the region during a meeting on Monday.
Turkish daily Milliyet reported on Wednesday that the country will consider any incursion to the west of Euphrates in northern Syria along the Turkish border by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and any attack to the north of Idlib by Syrian regime forces as a “violation of the red line.” The PYD is considered by Turkey to be the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed PKK which is recognised as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and EU.
Turkish government gave a directive to the TSK to take necessary measures along the 110-kilometre long border line between Jarablus and Azez after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had held several security meetings on Syria in his presidential palace, Turkish media reported earlier this week.
Media reports said the TSK has been alarmed along the border and many military vehicles including tanks, air defence systems, armoured combat vehicles, and military personnel have been moved in the Mediterranean province of Kilis across the northern Syrian district of Azez by the 5th Armored Brigade Command.
The brigade watches over a 190-kilometre border line from Kilis to the southeastern province of Gaziantep along the Syrian frontier. The brigade has deployed its armoured corps around the Dag and Cobanbey border posts in the Elbeyli district of Kilis and also near the Oncupinar border crossing across Azez.
Davutoglu reiterated that no one should create speculation about Turkey’s stance in regard to ISIS.
‘‘Turkey has had the most clear and clarified stance against ISIS from the very beginning,” said Davutoglu.
“We have supported the moderate opposition (referring to the Free Syrian Army also backed by the US).’’
Debates have stemmed up across Turkish media whether or not Turkey will create a “buffer-zone” within Syria. The Turkish government denied such a possibility.
The Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin emphasised on Tuesday that Turkey has never used the terminology of a “buffer-zone,” but spoke about the need of establishing a no-fly zone and safe-zone in the area for the civilians.
Turkey’s stance on the issue remains unchanged and discussions about the possible moves for creating a safe-zone continues.
The US State Department Spokesman John Kirby reacted to the Turkish demands on Tuesday, saying “The Defense Department has made it clear that they don’t believe there’s a need for that at this time, and that the use of coalition military assets in trying to effect a zone like that would entail an awful lot in terms of logistics, time, resources, and effort.”
When asked about the difference between a buffer-zone and a safe-haven, Kirby stated that, “In military terms, I’m not sure that there’s technical definitions for either one. I think it depends on the context in which you’re using it.”
“I don’t know that there’s much – it depends on how you define it and how you want that area defended and protected,” he said.
However, he also said, “They would have to decide how they would both make the decision, defend the decision, and implement it. That’s a national decision that they would have to speak to.”
Davutoglu also said that between 28-30 May, ISIS and the Assad regime came together for an exchange of services.
‘‘On 28-30 May the Syrian regime and ISIS came together in Haseki and signed an agreement against the moderate opposition. They exchanged services,’’ he said.
He didn’t mention any further details.
In his speech, the Turkish PM also said that the Kurds from Syria seeking asylum are welcome in Turkey.
‘‘The first Kurdish group who sought asylum in Turkey, were the Kurds fleeing the PYD. We have no problem with Kurds from Syria.’’