Turkey’s New Role in Anti-ISIS Fight

Turkey’s recent decision to join in the air strikes against ISIS and to give the coalition access to Incirlik Air Base will strengthen the campaign against the extremists, said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea during a video briefing with Pentagon reporters on Friday. Killea, chief of staff of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, deflected a question of whether Turkey’s air strikes against the Kurdish PKK forces in Iraq are handicapping the fight against ISIS in Syria, where other Kurdish groups are some of the most effective fighters. “We respect their rights to self-defense,” Killea said. “We feel if we can fold them more into the coalition operations” it will help “stabilize” the Turkey-Syria border area that is being eyed as a “buffer zone” for refugees from ISIS, and it would avoid any conflict with coalition air operations. He said there is an ongoing “dialogue” on the role Turkey will play in the campaign against ISIS and how coalition members can use Incirlik. Opening of the Turkish base, which would greatly shorten the distance for air strikes into Syria, “will have a very positive effect,” he said.