US welcomes Turkey vote to use military in Iraq, Syria
The Obama administration welcomed Turkey's parliamentary vote on Oct. 2 authorizing military action in Syria and Iraq to fight any group threatening the country Hurriyet Daily News reproted
The motion was submitted by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's Cabinet, and passed by a vote of 298-98 in the 550-seat Parliament.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed the vote as a "very positive development."
"We appreciate the Parliament's overwhelming vote," Hagel said. "We will continue to consult with the Turkish government on the specifics of how the implementation of that authority would be carried out, and we welcome it very much."
The State Department also welcomed the vote.
"We welcome the Turkish Parliament's vote to authorize Turkish military action," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "We've had numerous high-level discussions with Turkish officials to discuss how to advance our cooperation in countering the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria."
She added that Turkey had already indicated that it would play a more prominent role in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Psaki said Turkey had experienced the direct impacts of the terror group crisis in the Middle East, adding that the vote "provided broad authority, so the phase we're in now is discussing what particular role they'll play."
Gen. John Allen, who leads the coalition against ISIL, and his deputy, Ambassador Brett McGurk, will travel to the region and Turkey to discuss action against the terror group.
The Iraq-Syria motion gives a green light for the use of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria, as well as for foreign forces to be deployed on Turkish military bases and to transit through Turkish territory in operations against ISIL militants. The government merged two existing motions on Syria and Iraq into one, arguing that the threats and risks posed by terrorist organizations are using both countries' territories. The measure will be in effect for one year.
Psaki did not rule out the vote signaling a possible use of coalition ground troops along the Turkish border, but only said there were a range of options under consideration.
Hagel, however, said the U.S. was not currently planning to create a buffer zone in Syria, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for in the war-torn country.
"We continue to talk to the Turkish government about many options, but there are no plans for that option right now," Hagel said.