Turkey eyes joining alliance fighting IS

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DAMASCUS: Islamic State (IS) fighters have closed to within a few kilometers of a key Kurdish town on Syria’s border with Turkey, as Ankara mulls joining the anti-IS coalition.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organi-zation member Turkey on Monday deployed tanks to reinforce its side of the border and said parliament would this week debate joining     the international coalition against the jihadists operating on the country’s doorstep.

The coalition carried out new raids against IS positions, but the jihadists still managed to advance within five kilometers (three miles) of the strategic Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane to the Kurds, a monitor said.

It was the closest the militants had come to the town since they began advancing towards it nearly two weeks ago, sending tens of thousands of mostly Kurdish refugees across the border, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

As they advanced, the jihadists fired at least 15 rockets at the town center, killing at least one person. Other rockets hit the border zone.

Across the frontier, Turkey’s army was seen deploying tanks and armored vehicles to the town of Mursitpinar, after stray bullets hit Turkish villages and at least three mortar shells crashed nearby.

In Ankara, parliamentary speaker Cemil Cicek was reported to have said that motions for discussions  on Turkey joining the coalition could land with lawmakers on Tuesday. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said they would be debated on Thursday.

Turkey had refused to join the coalition while dozens of its citizens—including diplomats and children—were being held by IS after being abducted in Iraq.

After they were freed, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s position had changed, signaling a more robust stance toward the group.

AFP

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