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Turkish PM Says Air Strikes Changing Regional Game

July 27, 2015

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said the country's air strikes against Islamic State (IS) and Kurdish militants in Syria and northern Iraq could 'change the game' in the region.

Davutoglu was quoted on July 27 as telling a meeting of Turkish newspaper editors there were now 'new conditions.'

'The presence of a Turkey that can use its force effectively can lead to consequences that can change the game in Syria, Iraq, and the entire region,' the Hurriyet newspaper quoted him as saying. 'We want everyone to read and asses those new conditions created by our Syria and Iraq operations once again correctly and review their own position accordingly.'

NATO is to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the situation on July 28, at Turkey's request.

Davutoglu said that there were no plans to send ground troops into Syria.

He said Turkey had agreed with the United States that air cover should be provided for moderate rebels fighting IS forces in Syria.

The prime minister added that Turkey was prepared to work with the Syrian Kurdish PYD group, which has links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), provided it did not pose a threat to Turkey, cut all relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and cooperated with opposition forces.

On July 26, Turkish jets targeted PKK camps across the border in northern Iraq for three days straight, putting in jeopardy a truce that has largely held since 2013.

A PKK spokesman was quoted as saying two positions north of Dohuk and north of Irbil had been hit.

Earlier, Kurdish militants killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded four others near the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.

Turkey launched air strikes against IS positions in Syria and PKK targets in northern Iraq following recent attacks on its soil.

In a July 20 suicide attack blamed on the IS group, 32 people died in in the Kurdish-majority city of Suruc near the Syrian border.

After the bombing, the PKK killed two Turkish police in retaliation for what it saw as Turkey's collaboration with IS militants.

And a Turkish soldier died on July 23 in an IS attack on Turkish forces.

In recent days, Turkey has also arrested hundreds of suspected supporters of IS, PKK, and other militant groups across the country.

Police raids in the city of Istanbul have triggered three days of rioting in the Gazi district. At least one activist and a police officer have been killed in the violence.

With reporting by Hurriyet, Reuters, and the BBC

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/turkey-davutoglu-air-strikes-change-regional-game/27154249.html

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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