SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Turkey, who has been accused repeatedly by Syria of encouraging the formation of ISIS, had pledged to take part in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after release of 49 Turkish hostages.
“Turkey is very much part of this coalition, and Turkey will be very engaged on the frontlines of this effort,” Kerry told a global counter-terrorism forum after meeting with Turkish officials.
The forum, set up several years ago, aims to stem the spread of terror groups by cutting off funding, stemming the flow of foreign fighters and tacking the causes of violent extremism at its roots.
“Every single country here today is a critical part of an effort to address a global terrorist threat that is more diverse than ever before,” Kerry said.
The threat of the group had “resonance for every country in the room” and was “an organization that knows no bounds.”
A group of 46 Turks, including Turkey’s consul, children and special forces soldiers who were abducted by ISIS jihadists from Turkey’s consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June, returned home Saturday after more than three months in captivity.
Citing security sources, the Hurriyet daily said that Syrian rebels released 50 members of ISIS, including the family of a key radical leader, in exchange for the release of Turkish hostages.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country had deported more than a foreign fighters from almost 75 countries as it battles to halt the flow of extremists into Syria.
He pledged his country’s commitment to battling terrorism, but did not explicitly give details about any plans to join the US-led coalition.
The Syrian government has repeatedly accused Turkey of harboring, financing, training, and arming militants since violence erupted in March 2011.
Damascus sent letters to the United Nations time and again attacking Turkey’s “destructive” role in the Syrian conflict.
In 2013, Syria’s foreign ministry said in letters addressed to the UN Security Council and to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that “Turkey supports and publicly justifies terrorist, destructive acts against Syria” and “has turned its territory into camps used to house, train, finance and infiltrate armed terrorist groups, chief among them the al-Qaeda network and the al-Nusra Front.”
Again in 2014, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari submitted a letter to Ban Ki-moon in which the Syrian government criticized “Turkey’s role in supporting terrorism in the region.”
Jaafari said the Turkish authorities allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, extremists and mercenaries from across the world to enter Syria and provided armed groups with funds, weapons and other forms of support, which is “blatant violation of international agreements on counter-terrorism.”
One non-Syrian Islamist fighter who joined the Syrian rebel ranks in 2012 told Reuters the Turkish borders “were wide open” and armed rebels “used to get in and out of Turkey very easily. No questions were asked. Arms shipments were smuggled easily into Syria.”
Turkey has repeatedly denied such accusations.
Similarly, a PKK leader, Dursun Kalkan, accused the Turkish government of “collaboration” with ISIS radicals.
Ankara has been criticized for indirectly encouraging the formation of ISIS through its support of Islamist elements within the Syrian rebellion against the Syrian army and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, criticism that Ankara has rejected.