Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday he is considering joining U.S.-led military action against the Islamic State group in Syria. The United States and a coalition of Arab states began airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria this week.
Erdoğan told reporters in New York that Turkey may be open to “both military and political” involvement against the Sunni militant group, also known as ISIS.
“Of course, we will do our part. God willing, we will also discuss it together with our government,” he said.
— Mohamed Hemish (@MohamedHemish) September 23, 2014
France has begun bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq, but does not expect to do so in Syria. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called U.S. airstrikes in Syria illegal because they have not been approved by embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose main ally is Iran.
Erdoğan’s comments came three days after Turkey secured the release of 49 hostages, 46 of whom were Turkish, from the extremist Islamic State group. Erdoğan has not disclosed the details of negotiations for their release, but in the question-and-answer portion of a Council on Foreign Relations meeting in New York on Monday denied there was any ransom paid. He alluded to a potential prisoner exchange. Turkey refused to involve itself militarily against the Islamic State group while those hostages remained in custody.
Erdoğan went on to advocate for support for the Free Syrian Army, a so-called moderate Syrian rebel group fighting both the the Assad regime and Islamist rebel groups like al-Nusra Front (which is affiliated with al Qaeda) and the Islamic State.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he expects Turkey to become more involved in the fight against the Islamic State group. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar have all committed to joining the U.S. in hitting the terrorist group in Syria.