Turkey signalled that it may send troops into Syria or Iraq and let allies use Turkish bases to fight Islamic State, as coalition jets launched air strikes on insurgents besieging a town on its southern border with Syria.
The government sent a proposal to parliament which would broaden existing powers and allow Ankara to order military action to “defeat attacks directed towards our country from all terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria”.
The proposal would also mean Turkey, until now reluctant to take a frontline role against Islamic State, could allow foreign forces to use its territory for cross-border incursions.
But President Tayyip Erdogan said the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remained a Turkish priority and stressed that Ankara’s fears that US-led air strikes without a broader political strategy would only prolong the instability.
Turkey accuses Assad of stoking the growth of Islamic State through sectarian policies.
“We will fight effectively against both (Islamic State) and all other terrorist organisations within the region; this will always be our priority,” he told the opening of parliament, but added: “Tonnes of bombs dropped from the air will only delay the threat and danger.
The Islamic State advance to within sight of the Turkish army on the border has piled pressure on the Nato member to play a greater role in the US-led military coalition carrying out air strikes against the insurgents in Syria and Iraq.
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