US officials and a lot of pro-US rebels were loudly welcoming Turkey’s official involvement in the war against ISIS when it was announced in late July, but months later many are expressing growing doubt about whether Turkey intends to do anything at all against ISIS.
After brief clashes at the border, Turkey quickly changed focus to a separate war against the Kurdish PKK, which spans southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. This war appears to be virtually the sole focus of Turkey’s military ever since, with nothing really happening on the ISIS front.
So while Turkish officials continue to hype their planned “ISIS-free safe zone” in northern Syria and insist they view ISIS and the PKK as topics of equal focus, most see everything they’re doing as aimed at Kurdish factions. Even the much-vaunted “safe zone” is seen by many Kurds primarily as an effort to cut off supply routes for Kurdish forces inside Syria, aimed at an area well west of ISIS territory.
There is still no timetable for the safe zone at any rate, with Turkey and the US claiming they had “agreed in principle” on the zone two months ago, and so far no more than vague talk of it being somewhere around the Aleppo Province.
Underscoring Turkey’s focus, today’s comments from officials were entirely to condemn Russia for attacking ISIS, and to threaten to shoot down Russian warplanes if they encroach on the Turkish border again.
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