U.S. official: Turkey air base pact has 'nearly the same effect' as a no-fly zone

Turkish F-16s bomb ISIS targets in Syria
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Story highlights

  • The official says the goal is to establish a zone free of ISIS along the Turkey-Syria border
  • Turkey is allowing the U.S. to use its air bases, the senior administration official says
  • There's no U.S. agreement to establish a no-fly zone in Turkey, the official says

(CNN)Ahead of a hastily called NATO meeting, a senior Obama administration official told CNN on Monday there is no agreement with Turkey to establish a no-fly zone in the country.

But, the official said, Turkey has granted the U.S. access to its air bases to push back ISIS militants, so essentially that arrangement creates "nearly the same effect" as a no-fly zone.
"What we are talking about with Turkey is cooperating to support partners on the ground in northern Syria who are countering ISIL," a second senior administration official said. "The goal is to establish an ISIL-free zone and ensure greater security and stability along Turkey's border with Syria."
    ISIL -- the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- is sometimes used instead of the acronym ISIS.
    Retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona, a CNN military analyst, said setting up operations in Turkey presents challenges. The area the U.S. is considering a "safe zone" is on the Turkish border that, he said, is "still controlled by ISIS."
    "The problem is this is an area being bombed almost daily by the Syrian air force," he said. "So what happens when we set up a safe zone there and the Syrians want to conduct operations against people we're supporting? Are we going to go head-to-head with the Syrian air force? So this is setting up a real dangerous situation."
    Turkey requested the extraordinary NATO meeting under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows countries to ask for consultations when they believe their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.
    The talks will come as Turkey grapples with violence near its southern border with Syria. A car bomb exploded Sunday in southern Turkey, killing two security officers and wounding four other people, according to officials.
    On Thursday, at least five ISIS militants in northern Syria approached the border and fired on a Turkish border unit, killing a soldier and wounding two others, the Turkish military said.
    Turkey ramps up fight against ISIS and PKK
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    Turkey ramps up fight against ISIS and PKK 02:16
    Authorities say ISIS is also to blame for the July 20 suicide blast that killed more than 30 people in Suruc, a Turkish city on the Syrian border.
    In order for Turkey to support a "safe zone," the nation would have to cooperate with multiple Syrian opposition groups, a senior Syrian opposition official told CNN on Monday.
    A legal adviser for the collective known as the Free Syrian Army said that Syrians are "heading towards coordination with several sides."
    "And the Syrian opposition has the challenging task of presenting itself as a coalition, or having a special operation room, specifically for this battle," said the adviser, Oussama Abu Zaid.
    The Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, killed two Turkish police officers Wednesday. Turkish leaders believe the PKK, which has been fighting for independence since 1984, is exploiting ISIS' gains.
    Turkey's semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported Monday that more than 1,000 people have been detained in its anti-terror operations.