WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging close cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State group, the White House said,AFP reports.
“Obama noted the need for close coordination between the United States and Turkey to build on these successes and to apply sustained pressure on ISIL in Syria to reduce threats to the United States, Turkey, and elsewhere,” a statement said, using another name for the Jihadist group.
In addition, the US president called for more dialogue on what he called “the appropriate level and form of Turkey’s participation in the Counter-ISIL Coalition’s efforts in Iraq.”
Obama said he and Erdogan agreed on their “strong support for the territorial integrity of Iraq,” the statement said. Turkey’s positioning of troops in northern Iraq and its insistence that it has a role in the Mosul offensive have led to sharp exchanges with the Iraqi government, creating a headache for Washington as it tries to keep both of its allies on-side.
This week Iraq insisted that Turkey was not participating in the Mosul attack, rejecting Turkish claims that it was. IS Jihadists were shaving their beards and changing hideouts in Mosul Wednesday, residents said, as a major Iraqi offensive moved ever closer to the city.
Western defence chiefs are already looking ahead to the next target — IS’s other major stronghold of Raqa in Syria. US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday that Turkey would likely play a role in retaking Raqa.