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Turkey faces two front terror threats by IS and PKK militants
Intensified attacks by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria near Turkish border and ensuing violent protests in Turkey against IS by the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) led top Turkish leaders to convene an emergency security meeting in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday.
"We will not hesitate to establish public order," vowed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu after the meeting, while squarely putting the blame on the United Nations Security Council's five permanent members for failing Syria.
He said 19 Turkish citizens were killed and 145 wounded in two days of demonstrations by Kurds who protest Turkey's inaction in the face of imminent fall of Kobane, also known as Ayn al-Arab, to IS militants.
Turkish security forces apprehended 368 people so far for being involved in violent events, Davutoglu stated.
Local media reported on Wednesday night that the death toll has reached 21.
Meanwhile, Turkish authorities imposed a curfew in five provinces and extended emergency rule in some cities while suspending schools for security precautions.
Turkey has already raised the alert level for the security forces, with tanks and land forces contingencies positioned along the border in close proximity to Kobane. The military refrained, however, from interfering into the fight between IS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces that is an offshoot of the Turkey's PKK.
Turkey considers both the IS and PKK as terrorist organizations and is not willing to take part in the battle between the two. " Turkey has to strike a delicate balance between the IS and the PYD, " former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis said.
He said Turkey will not be happy to see IS capture Kobane and become Turkey's neighbor. "But it is not eager to carry out military action against IS that might strengthen the hand of the PYD because Turkey regards this political party as an extension in Syrian territory of the PKK terrorist organization," he explained.
The Turkish General Staff announced on Wednesday that five members of the People's Defense Units (YPG), the armed militia of the PYD, were captured near the Turkish border with Syria carrying three Kalashnikov rifles.
Turkey's Land Forces Commander Gen. Hulusi Akar paid a visit to the border town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province on Monday to oversee developments at the border in person.
IS hoisted its black flag on the eastern edge of the town as the Turkish general was inspecting troops stationed along border area.
Last week, Turkish Parliament endorsed a war resolution authorizing the government to send troops to Syria and Iraq to fight all types of terrorist organizations.
Turkey has already sheltered some 1.5 million Syrian refugees, including 180,000 refugees who fled Kobane after IS militants moved closer to the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, where intense clashes continue to take place alongside US-led airstrikes.
It prompted the PKK in Turkey to stage violent demonstrations to protest government.
NATO Ponders Help for Turkey
Meanwhile, Turkey asked the NATO to draw up contingencies to respond to the growing security problem in Turkey's southern borders.
"If there is an attack on Turkey, NATO will bring about the provisions of Article 5 of the Washington Convention," Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said.
Article 5 states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all its members.
The new NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg will arrive Turkey on Thursday to hold talks with Turkish leaders. "Turkey is an ally of NATO and our main responsibility is to protect the integrity and the borders of Turkey," Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Poland. "And Turkey should know that NATO will be there if there is any spillover, any attacks on Turkey as a consequence of the violence we see in Syria," he added.
Turkey Insists on Safe Zone
The Turkish government has said it would not be involved in a ground battle in Syria as part of the U.S.-led coalition unless removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime from power is part of the plan.
Turkish leaders including Davutoglu and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have all reiterated that Turkey wants a no-fly zone inside Syria, as well as a "safe zone" on Turkey's border, saying that otherwise the whole burden will continue to fall on the shoulders of Turkey and its neighbors.
"We asked for three things: one, for a no-fly zone to be created; two, for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped," Erdogan said in Gaziantep on Tuesday.
A no-fly zone and a safe zone are not supported by the U.S. or most of the coalition members against IS.
French President Francois Hollande's office said on Wednesday that it supported the idea of setting up a buffer zone between Turkey and Syria to create a safe haven for displaced people.
"(The president) insisted on the need to avoid massacres in the north of Syria. He gave his support to the idea proposed by President Erdogan to create a buffer zone between Syria and Turkey to host and protect displaced people," read the statement.
At a news conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the idea of a buffer zone should be thoroughly studied. "The buffer zone... is an idea that's out there, it's worth examining, it's worth looking at very, very closely," Kerry told reporters.
The Pentagon said on Wednesday, however, that Turkey's proposed buffer zone in Syria was not on the table now.
Senior U.S. officials will visit Ankara on Thursday to hammer out the exact role of Turkey's contribution in the U.S.-led military coalition fighting the IS.
[Source: Xinhua, Ankara, 08Oct14]
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