It appears the 'broad coalition' that President Obama so confidently described just two days ago is crumbling faster than the Iraqi army. First UK and Germany deny support for airstrikes in Syria and now Turkey refuses to allow a U.S.-led coalition to attack jihadists in neighboring Iraq and Syria from its air bases, nor will it take part in combat operations against militants, a government official. US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ankara this morning to 'build the coalition' but, as AFP reports, Turkish officials have already made their position clear, "Turkey will not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations." Their 'excuse': "our hands and arms are tied because of the hostages," but follows PM Erdogan's recent shunning of Obama.
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Ankara Friday for talks aimed at building a coalition against Islamic State jihadists, a visit that comes after Turkey said it would not allow its air bases to be used for strikes on the extremists.
The top US diplomat, touring the Middle East to establish a coalition of more than 40 countries, is to meet with Turkey's leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on measures to defeat the militants in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey, a NATO member and Washington's key ally in the region, is reluctant to take part in combat operations against Islamic State militants, or allow a US-led coalition to attack jihadists from its territory.
On the eve of the visit, a Turkish official told AFP: "Our hands and arms are tied because of the hostages."
The official added that Turkey will "not be involved in any armed operation but will entirely concentrate on humanitarian operations."
IS militants hold 49 Turks hostage, including diplomats and children, abducted from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq in June.
Turkey is the only Muslim country in a coalition of 10 countries who agreed to fight ISIS at the NATO summit in Newport.
Turkey can open Incirlik Air Base in the south for logistical and humanitarian operations in any U.S.-led operation, according to the official who stressed that the base would not be used for lethal air strikes.
“Turkey will not take part in any combat mission, nor supply weapons,” he said.
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This is not an entire surprise given Erdogan's shunning of Obama and the decision echoes the country’s refusal to allow the U.S. to station 60,000 troops in Turkey in 2003 to invade Iraq from the north, which triggered a crisis between the two allies.