U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has called on Turkey to increase its contribution in the fight against the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, as part of his current tour of the Middle East that aims to increase regional support for the military campaign, the Today's Zaman (Turkish) website reports today (December 16, 2015).
Speaking to reporters while traveling to the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, Carter said Turkey needed to enhance its control on the border with Syria, particularly a 60-mile stretch believed to be used by ISIS for illicit trade and for shuttling foreign fighters back and forth.
Carter praised Turkey for opening its Incirlik Air Base to the campaign. "We appreciate what they're doing. We want them to do more... The single most important contribution that their geography makes necessary is the control of their own border," he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama also raised the issue of porous borders. After a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on December 1, Obama said there has been some progress in sealing the border between Turkey and Syria, but that there are still some "gaps" exploited by ISIS to bring in foreign fighters and to sell oil.