US state spokesman Kirby rebukes criticism of Turkey

US State Department spokesman John Kirby knocks back claims Turkey isn't doing enough to fight ISIS

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

US State Department spokesman John Kirby seen conducting a press meeting.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday hit back at accusations that Turkey is dragging its heals in its efforts as a member of the anti-ISIS coalition.

Kirby expressed appreciation regarding Turkey’s involvement in the fight against ISIS, saying, "They've allowed us to use airbases now. They're going to soon be flying in the coalition air tasking order, you know, inside the coalition planning cycle for air ops, and yet I continue to get questions up here, that you know, why aren't they doing more; why aren't they doing enough."

Kirby made the comments during a press briefing in which a reporter asked whether the state department is content with Turkey's efforts, seemingly contradicting US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who said on Thursday last week that Turkey should do more in the battle against ISIS.

While welcoming Turkey's decision to join the air campaign against the militant group, Carter said Turkish forces need to work to secure Turkey's border with Syria. 

In a Pentagon news conference Carter went on to say, "This needs to be done. It's overdue, because it's a year into the campaign. But they're indicating some considerable effort now, including some — allowing us to use their airfields."

"That's important, but it's not enough," he added.

Kirby emphasised that there are no differences between the Defense and State Departments with respect to further action, noting that he found it "interesting" that discussions around Turkey's efforts continue despite its clear commitment to fighting ISIS.

"Here's a nation that has two million refugees that it's taking care of inside Syria. Significant security concerns of their own, a foreign terrorist group, like the PKK, continues to attack them, as we saw throughout the weekend," he stressed.

Kirby also said that all coalition members can do better, including the United States, but as "a coalition of the willing" all members of it are dedicated to the fight.

Turkey's ongoing efforts against ISIS intensified after an ISIS suicide attack on July 20 killed 34 people in the southeastern town of Suruc. Following the attack Turkey declared it would open its Incirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana for use by anti-ISIS coalition forces.

Pentagon officials have long been in talks with Turkey over the use of the air base, which provides much easier and cheaper access to ISIS targets in northern Syria.

Earlier this month the US began flying armed drones out of the base and less than two weeks later F-16 fighter jets flew their first manned missions from the base.

Turkish jets have also conducted several air strikes on ISIS targets inside Syria over the last few weeks while Turkish police have conducted domestic raids on suspects allegedly linked to the group, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey. 

Turkey and the US are about to conclude an agreement on the technical details concerning Turkey's inclusion in the anti-ISIS air campaign.

Turkey was recently threatened by an ISIS commander of Turkish origin in a video, who called on ISIS supporters to conquer Turkey's largest city, Istanbul. 

In the video the ISIS militant accused the Turkish government of cooperating with Western countries. 

TRTWorld and agencies