Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday his country is prepared to send ground forces to help eradicate the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS), as long as the removal of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is guaranteed.
Davutoglu made the comments in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and was quoted by the Turkish Anadolu news agency.
The Turkish Prime Minister told CNN that, without the removal of Assad, the Syrian regime's ongoing offensives posed as big a threat as that caused by ISIS.
"We are ready to do everything as long as there is a clear strategy that, after ISIS, we can be sure that our borders will be protected,” said Davutoglu.
"We don't want the (Assad) regime on our border any more, pushing people against -- towards Turkey," he added.
"If ISIS goes, another radical organization may come in as long as Assad stays in his seat," said the Turkish leader.
Davutoglu emphasized the need for a comprehensive, inclusive, strategic and combined international strategy to defeat the terrorist elements threatening the whole region and displacing millions of people, especially in the last few months.
"So our approach should be ... not just to punish -- to satisfy our public opinion -- to punish one terrorist organization, but to eliminate all terrorist threats in the future, and also to eliminate all brutal crimes against humanity committed by the regime," he told CNN.
"We want to have a no-fly zone. We want to have a safe haven on our border. Otherwise, all these burdens will continue to go on the shoulders of Turkey and other neighboring countries," Davutoglu said.
Turkey’s parliament voted last week to authorize military intervention in Syria and Iraq. In response, Iran’s Foreign Minister warned Turkey against doing anything that might aggravate tensions in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that his country cannot stay out of the international coalition fighting the ISIS. Erdogan, who preceded Davutoglu as Prime Minister, has also been vocal with regards to his opposition to Assad.
Erdogan has several times called on Assad to resign. In August of 2013 he said that the goal of any military intervention in Syria should be to topple Assad’s regime.