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Turkey's president says Ankara is ready to help fight IS militants and says removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power remains a priority for Turkey. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says his country will join the fight against Islamic State but will stick to its aim of seeing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power.
The advance of Islamic State insurgents to within sight of the Turkish army on the Syrian border has piled pressure on Ankara to play a greater role in the U.S.-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the insurgents in Syria and Iraq.
(SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH PRESIDENT, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING:
"We are ready for any kind of cooperation in fighting against terrorism. However Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it."
Turkey fears that U.S.-led air strikes, if not accompanied by a broader political strategy, could strengthen Assad and bolster Kurdish militants allied to Kurds in Turkey who have fought for three decades for greater autonomy.
(SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH PRESIDENT, TAYYIP ERDOGAN, SAYING: (PARTLY OVERLAID WITH SHOT 8)
"The return of more than 1.5 million refugees to Syria is also a priority for our country. The removal of the Assad government and the territorial integrity of Syria will also remain a priority for Turkey."
Turkey deployed tanks and armored vehicles on the border with Syria this week as fighting intensified. The government has also sent a proposal to parliament which would extend its powers to authorize cross-border military incursions.