Use of Turkish Airbase Against IS Without Sending Ground Forces Counterproductive: Expert

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Using Turkey's Incirlik airbase in the fight against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) without sending ground forces would be counterproductive and could inflame the militants, Ivan Eland, US defense analyst and director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

WASHINGTON, October 15 (RIA Novosti) - Using Turkey's Incirlik airbase in the fight against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) without sending ground forces would be counterproductive and could inflame the militants, Ivan Eland, US defense analyst and director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

"The air base will permit more bombing runs, but this will only inflame ISIS and give it more recruits and monetary contributions," Eland said. "This will be counterproductive unless Turkey agrees to use its ground forces and move into Iraq and Syria."

Eland believes that using Turkish ground forces against the Islamic State is likely to be more effective than using US ground forces.

"Regional forces know the culture, language and customs better than US forces, and thus will have better intelligence about who is and who is not an ISIS fighter," the analyst explained.

On Monday, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Istanbul has not yet made a decision on whether to allow the United States access to its Incirlik air base to carry out attacks against IS. The base, however, is already being used by the US Air Force for logistical and humanitarian purposes.

Eland stated that the United States needs to avoid sending its own ground forces and should pressure Turkey to take the lead in fighting the Islamic State on the ground.

Turkey is reluctant to do so because it "fears the Kurds more than ISIS," he said, adding that the Islamic State is a threat to the region and not to the United States.

"The regional powers are waiting for the United States to send ground forces. If the US keeps doing the heavy lifting, those countries will not step up," Eland stressed.

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the extremist group expanded its attacks to northern and western Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories that had fallen under its control.

For the past several weeks, Islamic State fighters have besieged Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, one of the largest towns in the Kurdish region of Syria bordering Turkey. The fighting has forced an estimated 180,000 residents of Kobani to flee across the border to Turkey.

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