Unnamed US officials have blamed Turkey for the suspension of a plan to expand aerial operations inside Syria.
A “senior administration official” chided that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “continues to have a different geographic priority”, because Ankara wants operations to be part of the attempt to implement no-fly zones in opposition-controlled areas and remove the Assad regime from power.
“We want to go after ISIL [the Islamic State],” the official said.
The US began aerial intervention on September, saying that it wanted to check the Islamic State’s offensive in northern and eastern Syria, including the assault on the Kurdish center of Kobane near the Turkish border.
Ankara has said that it will work with the US-led coalition; however, plans must also continue the fight against the Assad regime. The Erdoğan Government proposed “safe havens” for civilians and the opposition from its Mediterranean border with Syria across the north to the border with Iraq.
In late December, American envoy General John Allen visited Turkey for discussions of the plans, and lower-level conversations are continuing; however, the two sides are still divided on the geographical outline of the operation.
The Obama Administration has authorized $500 million to train and equip a force of about 5,000 “moderate” insurgents; however, training will not begin until late March and the first group of fighters will not be ready for the battlefield before the end of 2015.