As the US put pressure on Turkey to close its border with Syria, the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu has said that closing the country’s border would be extremely difficult despite most of it being “under Islamic State control.”
The borderline is currently used by the terrorist group for transportation of fighters and supplies into the Syrian war zone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Pentagon officials have estimated that the Turkey would need to deploy around 30,000 soldiers to seal off a 100-kilometer stretch of its border with Syria in order to block the movement of ISIS.
“There is nothing more difficult than protecting a border on the other side of which there is no political authority. There is no functioning state system or counterpart administration on the other side,” Davutoglu told a press conference Thursday. “At the moment, around 98 kilometers of our border appear to be under Daesh [an Arabic term for Islamic State] control,” he added.
Davutoglu said the border cannot be closed given his country’s “moral responsibility” to take refugees and also that there is “no one on the other side” to project it either.
“Keeping the entire border with Syria [closed] may come on the agenda as a project, but then what will you do about transiting refugees? We have a moral responsibility along this 911 kilometers-long border and it is accepting refugees,” he said.
The PM also claimed his country had “paid the highest price for Daesh’s terrorist activities,” saying that “not having terrorists transition and any negative developments on the Turkey-Syria border are in Turkey’s interest.”
He insisted that Turkey has countermeasures in place. “In the past months, we have given orders to build physical barriers on the entire border and these physical barriers are being built. Control is maintained through signal systems, but beyond that we are conducting all kinds of works to eradicate Daesh from these 98 kilometers.”
Turkey shares a long border with the neighboring Syria, swaths of which have been controlled by terrorist groups during the civil war.