American Envoy Visits Turkey Amid Speculation of Syria Attack

The United States special envoy for the coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) group was in Ankara on Tuesday to meet Turkish officials, after speculation Turkey could launch a military intervention inside Syria, sources told AFP.

"General John Allen will hold talks in Ankara today," a Turkish official told the news agency on condition of anonymity, adding that the talks were "naturally" expected to focus on the fight against ISIS.

Accompanied by U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth and military officials, Allen is expected to meet with Feridun Sinirlioglu, the Turkish undersecretary of the foreign ministry as well as military chiefs, the source indicated.

Turkey has reinforced its military presence on the volatile border over the past week, deploying tanks and anti-aircraft missiles there as well as additional troops.

The moves come as fighting between Islamist-led groups and Syrian regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo has intensified.

The Turkish build-up has led to speculation that the government is planning to intervene in Syria to push the jihadists back from the border and halt the advance of Kurdish forces who have made gains against the extremists in the area.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rejected the reports, however, saying last week his country has no plans to intervene militarily in Syria anytime soon.

"No one should expect that Turkey will go into Syria tomorrow or in the near future. It's speculation," Davutoglu said.

While Turkey would "not wait" to act in Syria "in the event of a threat to domestic security", Davutoglu added a unilateral intervention was "out of the question" under the current conditions.

Reports last week said the Turkish military could create a buffer zone dozens of kilometers inside Syrian territory to ensure Turkish security and house some of the 1.8 million Syrian refugees on its territory.

Ankara is wary of the creation of an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Syria, fearing the growing power of Kurdish forces there will embolden Turkey's own Kurdish minority.

Turkey — NATO's only majority Muslim member — has stayed out of the American-led coalition assisting Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS, causing irritation in Washington.

Analysts have warned that a Turkish intervention inside Syria could carry considerable risks and also further strain its relations with the West.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/197829

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