Turkey should “appropriately have a role in the counter-ISIL campaign in both Syria and Iraq,” American media quoted Carter as saying while using an alternative name for Daesh, following his meetings with Turkish leaders in Ankara.
“I’m pretty confident — on the basis of all the conversations we’ve had — that we’ll be able to work through those practicalities in a way that takes care of the sensitivities of all of the parties,” he reportedly said. Also that Turkey’s efforts in the Daesh fight would be “very productive for the war effort” and that Baghdad understands Ankara is a member of the coalition.
But a Pentagon official who spoke to Anadolu Agency was not prepared to go quite as far as his boss in projecting Turkey’s role.
“Secretary Carter appreciates Turkey’s critical participation in the Counter-ISIL coalition and its strong interest in playing a role in the Mosul campaign,” the official said, noting the Iraqi government’s approval of such a decision.
The U.S. would work with leadership in both countries to bridge differences that remain, according to the official.
Addressing the issue at a daily press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said
Turkey’s presence in northern Iraq is “because of a concern that they have about some extremist Kurdish elements in Iraq,” referring to the outlawed PKK and its affiliates.
Earnest reiterated that the U.S. has insisted in principle that any operation in Iraq should be in coordination with the Iraqi government.
“Thus far, with regard to that Turkish presence outside of Mosul, you know, we have not seen movements that have raised concerns about the Turks violating that principle,” Earnest said.
Turkey has trained several thousand tribal and peshmerga forces at the Bashiqa camp on the northeastern outskirts of Mosul.
Ankara wants those trained fighters to take part in the fight against Daesh and play a role as a holding force in the predominantly Sunni city, citing concerns about sectarian feuds to follow after the defeat of Daesh.
The Turkish government has also expressed concerns with respect to the humanitarian situation in Mosul amid the offensive.