Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Thursday that the U.S.-led international coalition may broaden the scope of its military operations against terrorist groups in Syria, including Daesh.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
"A more comprehensive fight that is not limited to Daesh but also includes other terrorist organizations is under consideration and may launch in March," he told a live interview on the private A Haber TV channel in Ankara.
His remarks came after Saturday's "Shah Firat" operation by the Turkish Armed Forces in the country's Syrian exclave to retrieve the remains of Suleyman Shah.
Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. His tomb, and about 40 Turkish soldiers who guarded the Turkish territory inside war-torn Syria, were relocated Saturday during the military operation.
Arinc stressed that Turkey did what is necessary against an imminent threat as the terrorist group Daesh came too close to the area where the tomb of Suleyman Shah lies.
He said preparations for the operation started a few months ago with precise calculations on what to do in the case of "an assault or probable, strong, open and close threat."
"We must be cautious against Daesh attacks against tombs or other terrorist acts. That's why two war planes are on patrol duty for 24 hours a day so as to immediately intervene in the event of any assault," he said.
Asked whether Ankara will conduct a more rigid policy against Daesh from now on, Arinc said Turkey had all contingency plans in place against any threat from the militant groups.
He said airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition are not enough to fully attack terrorist groups, highlighting the need to launch a ground operation as well.
"The international coalition is not at that point yet, but it might be soon," he said.
When asked if Turkey would participate in such a broader campaign including a ground offensive, Arinc said that decision would hinge on how far the coalition will meet Turkey's "priorities."
Ankara has long pushed for a safe haven and no-fly zone inside Syria to shelter Syrian civilians from attacks by both the Assad regime and Daesh, but the U.S.-led international coalition has so far been reluctant.
Turkey also demands the removal of Assad regime.
Turkey has given shelter to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, which has become a huge burden on its national finances, and aims to prevent any further mass refugee flows into the country.