Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:42PM
Special forces attending a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to the Gendarmerie Commando Special Forces headquarters in Ankara on February 16, 2016 (AFP)
Special forces attending a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to the Gendarmerie Commando Special Forces headquarters in Ankara on February 16, 2016 (AFP)

Turkey is among the few countries insisting that the only way to stop the war in Syria is to deploy ground forces in the Arab country’s northern regions.

A Turkish official told reporters in Istanbul on Tuesday that the only possible solution to the conflict in Syria is ground operations, but Turkey would not carry out such an operation on its own. “We are asking coalition partners that there should be a ground operation,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“We want a ground operation. If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop this war... Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation ... We are discussing this with allies."

Another Turkish official who commented about the ground ops in Syria is Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who is trying to cajole Ankara’s allies into okaying the deployment of the troops.

"Some countries like us, Saudi Arabia and some other Western European countries have said that a ground operation is necessary ... But to expect this only from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar is neither right nor realistic," he said. "If such an operation is to take place, it has to be carried out jointly, like the (coalition) airstrikes.”

He went on to say that Ankara has repeatedly called for measures beyond airstrikes, although the subject has not been seriously discussed with the US-led coalition.

"Of course, there would be airstrikes but a cleansing on the ground is also needed. I stated in every meeting ... that Daesh could not be destroyed or stopped by air strikes,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced that his country was awaiting a green light from the US-led coalition to deploy special forces.

"The Kingdom's readiness to provide special forces to any ground operations in Syria is linked to a decision to have a ground component to this coalition against Daesh in Syria -- this US-led coalition -- so the timing is not up to us," he said.

This handout picture taken and released by the Turkish Presidential Press Office on February 16, 2016 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) getting a briefing from Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (R) during his visit to the Gendarmerie Commando Special Forces headquarters in Ankara.

Corridor for Kurds?

Earlier on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that Syrian military operations backed by Russian airstrikes are aimed at creating a corridor for Kurdish forces.

Over the last few days, Ankara has been targeting Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in an attempt to stop Kurdish forces from reaching the Syrian border with Turkey, while Syrian forces have been making daily gains against Daesh Takfiri terrorists in the northern regions.

“Such attacks ... aim to form a belt for the PYD and the ground element of that is being handled by the YPG," Erdogan added.

"I would like to address our Western allies once again: the YPG and PYD are terrorist organizations and those who have helped them form such structures will not be forgiven by history," he said.

Syrian government troops and allied volunteer forces have recently recaptured multiple villages from Daesh in the northern Aleppo province. On Monday, they freed the villages of Masqan, Kafr Naya and al-Tiba.

Tanks stationed at a Turkish army position near the Oncupinar crossing gate close to the town of Kilis, south central Turkey, fire towards the Syria border, on February 16, 2016.  (AFP)

Stop shelling Kurds: UN to Turkey

Also on Tuesday, following a meeting requested by Russia, the UN Security Council called on Turkey to halt its shelling on Syrian soil.

“UN Security Council members are concerned with the Turkish attacks on a number of Syrian regions,” said Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Ramirez, who currently chairs the council. "All members of the Security Council ... agreed to ask for Turkey to comply with international law."

On Tuesday, Turkey relentlessly shelled the Syrian town of A’zaz, located just 8 kilometers from the border, for the fourth consecutive day.

Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov noted on Tuesday that Turkish military has launched “massive artillery strikes” on bordering areas in Aleppo since Saturday. “Impartial monitoring bodies have detected more than a hundred rounds of fire that targeted border towns in the province of Aleppo.”