Turkish president has urged the international community to escalate attacks against the Islamic State (IS) militant group, warning that the armed group could expand its reach beyond Iraq and Syria.
“We see a deeper problem. The situation is now unsustainable as Islamic State gains a global character. We must extinguish the danger before it hits more countries,” Xinhua quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying Sunday, while addressing the attendees of a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in Istanbul.
Turkey’s leader stressed that US air strikes targeting IS bases provide only “a temporary solution,” adding that world leaders need to take “urgent steps” by fighting not just in the air, but on the ground.
“Peshmerga (Kurdish) forces which have already been fighting inside Iraq and the Iraqi army should be part of it so that the ground activities will get stronger,” he said, emphasising efforts to train fighters to combat the Islamic State should be done quickly.
Erdogan’s comments come as Turkey is struggling to grapple with a growing refugee crisis at its increasingly fragile borders. The country shares more than 1,000 km of borders with both Iraq and Syria and is hosting 1.5 million refugees.
“We have to ensure the security of our borders,” he said, adding that a no-fly zone and safe zone should also be established immediately in the region.
The Turkish president backed the U.S.-led coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State targets, advocating that attacks “target both Iraq and Syria”.