Turkey to hold back on Syria ground offensive

Turkey to hold back on Syria ground offensive
Turkey will not intervene in Syria's war unless its allies agree to back the ground offensive, an Ankara official has said.
2 min read
16 February, 2016
Turkey has shelled Kurdish positions in northern Syria [AFP]

Turkey has said it will only commit forces to a ground operations in Syria if its allies - including the US - back the offensive with troops.

A senior Turkish official told reporters that Ankara has asked its partners to intervene in Syria's war, but his country will not take any action alone.

"We want a ground operation with our international allies," the official told reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday.

"There is not going to be a unilateral military operation from Turkey to Syria... [but] without a ground operation it is impossible to stop the fighting in Syria. We are asking the coalition partners that there should be a ground operation."

It comes as speculation mounts about possible Turkish intervention in Syria's war to prevent Kurdish forces estabishing a mini-state on its borders and protect Syrian rebel forces from losing further ground.

Turkish artillery and Kurdish fighters have exchanged fire over the border. 

However, Turkey's ally, the US, has backed the Syrian-Kurdish force due to its role in fighting the Islamic State group, which has complicated the situation for Ankara.

Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz said that his forces would not intervene in Syria's war on Sunday.

However, there is a anger about Kurdish "betrayal" of Syrian rebels, after they captured opposition territory during a recent Syrian regime offensive in Aleppo province.

We want a ground operation with our international allies.
Turkish official

Russian war planes have pounded opposition-held territories in recent weeks and Syrian regime forces have launched a successful ground offensive to encircle rebels in Aleppo city.

Bombing has led to hundreds of mostly civilians dead and forces tens thousands from their homes.

"Those vile, cruel and barbaric planes have made close to 8,000 sorties since 30 September without any discrimination between civilians and soldiers, or children and the elderly," Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in parliament on Tuesday.

Russian planes were accused of bombing another Syrian hospital and school on Monday, which Moscow denied on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is said to be building up its forces in Turkey to battle Islamic State group forces in Syria.

Reports of joint Saudi-Turkish military exercises have surfaced, and Gulf state Qatar has also said it was ready to take part in the fight against IS.

This comes just days after the United Arab Emirates announced their readiness to intervene in Syria, while Saudi planes flew to Turkey to prepare for air strikes against the extremist group.