Turkey rules out combat mission in Libya

AFP , Tuesday 22 Mar 2011

Sending Turkish troops to Libya for a military mission was ruled out by premier Erdogan Tuesday

Turkey ruled out the possibility of sending any combat mission to Libya but could take part in operations with humanitarian purposes, the daily Hurriyet quoted Turkish Prime Minister as saying Tuesday.

"We will not participate with our fighting forces. It is impossible for us to think that our fighters drop bombs over Libyan people," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told to reporters Monday on the plane bringing him back to Ankara from Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan said his country was willing to be involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid, to take over the responsibility of Benghazi airport and to "control" the area between Crete and Benghazi on the Mediterrenean Sea with its naval forces.

"We do not want Libya to become a second Iraq... A civilization in Iraq collapsed within eight years. More than a million people were killed there," Erdogan said.

Ankara on Monday said it expected a clarification on a possible role for NATO in Libya. Earlier, Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul said Ankara was perplexed by France's leadership in the air strikes.

Erdogan on Monday met with his key ministers and military commanders to evaluate the situation. He also spoke to US President Barack Obama on the phone.

Turkey would decide on its possible role after Erdogan's talks with Obama and consultations within NATO, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday in a televison interview, while ruling out any combat mission.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly warned of the "dangerous" consequences of NATO intervention in Libya, and opposed any "foreign intervention" in that country.

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