According to an emerging cooperation program between Ankara and Washington, more troops and US warplanes and troops are set to deploy into Turkey, with the aim of battling more effectively ISIL militants’ strongholds along the Syrian border.
"We're talking about logistics… berthing and force protection and things like that," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Monday.
According to the Pentagon, there are approximately 1,700 US personnel — mostly Air Force — based at Incirlik, near the border with Syria.
The US Department of Defense confirmed that talks with Turkey’s military to determine what forces and capabilities should be used in the joint operation are still ongoing.
"The purpose of the operation is to clear the border and close the border to Daesh (ISIL)," a senior Obama administration official earlier told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Davis was similarly noncommittal when it came to the Pentagon’s current position on Syrian President Bashar Assad:
"We're not cooperating with the Assad regime nor are we waging war with the Assad regime," the spokesperson said.
On Friday, Turkey launched a two-front military campaign against ISIL militants in Syria and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. The campaign involves airstrikes by F-16 fighter jets and shelling from within Turkish territory.
While the Turkish Air Force has been attacking Kurdish positions in Iraq and Turkey, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has proved a major military asset for US strikes against ISIL in Syria. This could become a serious obstacle for a full-scale joint military operation, as Turkey may deliberately veto any US activity perceived to be in favor of the Kurds, Middle East experts Neil Quilliam and Jonathan Friedman wrote for Reuters.