BAGHDAD — Turkey’s government edged closer Tuesday to direct intervention in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, bolstering security along its border with Syria and asking parliament to authorize sending troops to the two war-ravaged countries.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters the proposal sent to parliament would include a wide range of options, including opening Turkish bases to foreign troops and deploying soldiers to establish safe zones for refugees inside Syria. The government wants the motion to be broad enough to avoid needing another parliamentary mandate for military action, he said.
The motion is to be voted on Thursday and is considered likely to pass.
Turkey has resisted direct involvement in the international confrontation with the Islamic State. Allowing foreign forces to use its bases or airspace, and possibly to train U.S.-backed Syrian rebels in its territory, along with possible cross-border operations by its powerful and well-equipped military, would mark a significant change in the conflict.
The Turkish action came as President Obama held a late-afternoon meeting with his National Security Council on his strategy to confront the Islamic State, which includes airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. The Pentagon said Tuesday that there have been more than 310 strikes by U.S. and coalition aircraft. Of those, more than 230 have been in Iraq, where British fighters on Tuesday conducted their first two strikes in support of Kurdish fighters in the northwest part of the country.
The remaining strikes have been in Syria, including several overnight Monday and Tuesday on Islamic State fighters besieging the border town of Kobane, which is defended by Kurdish forces from Syria and Turkey.
Amid calls for more assistance in the ongoing battle there, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, cautioned against what he called a lack of “strategic patience.”
“While we continue to hit them where they are, it doesn’t mean we can or even that we should hit them everywhere they are at every moment,” Kirby said in a news briefing in Washington. “We must choose. We must discriminate between targets that matter more to us in space and time . . . and those that run higher risks of collateral damage or civilian casualties.”
He said the strikes are clearly having an effect on Islamic State operations. The militants, he said, “have had to change their tactics and their communications and their command and control. Yes, they are blending in more. Yes, they are dispersing. And yes, they aren’t communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were. That’s a good thing, because if they aren’t operating as freely, then they aren’t as free to achieve their goals.”
“That doesn’t mean ISIL doesn’t still pose a threat,” Kirby said, using one of several acronyms for the Islamic State.
Some supporters of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel force, which is fighting the militants and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, have charged that airstrikes there have caused civilian casualties — allegations the Pentagon has said it has not confirmed. Rebels have also accused the United States and its partners of aiding Assad by striking members of an extremist group, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as the Islamic State.
In a comment likely to further anger the rebels, Kirby said both organizations “were born of al-Qaeda. . . . So in our minds, from a military perspective, they are very much one and the same.”
During the first night of air attacks in Syria last week, the United States also targeted the Khorasan group, a number of al-Qaeda operatives it said were embedded with Jabhat al-Nusra forces. While the rebel coalition rejects the Islamic State, it considers Jabhat al-Nusra a sometime ally.
Turkey has long favored establishment of safe, or buffer, zones along its border with Syria. The Obama administration has said that would require constant air protection that it was unwilling to provide as long as the principal enemy was the Syrian government and its potent air defense system.
The need for such overflights, along with the risk to any protective aircraft, now seems to have greatly diminished. Syria has kept its air defense system in what U.S. officials have described as “passive” mode while the United States and Arab partners have pounded militant positions over the past week.
Turkey, a NATO member, has been accused of aiding the militants by allowing them to traverse Turkish territory to fight in Syria. But the border fighting — coupled with the rescue of dozens of Turkish diplomats and their families who were being held by the Islamic State — has shifted government opinion.
Kobane’s fall would give the Islamic State control of a large stretch of the Turkey-Syria border. The siege has prompted more than 160,000 refugees to flee into Turkey in the past week, and shells from the fighting have landed in Turkish territory.
Turkey on Tuesday dispatched hundreds of soldiers and tanks to the Syrian border to contain potential violent spillover from the Islamic State siege on Kobane.
In Iraq, meanwhile, Kurdish troops launched an offensive to retake towns held by the Islamic State in the north, security officials said. The officials said thousands of Kurdish fighters, known as pesh merga, were participating in the battle, which is focused on the Iraqi border town of Rabea.
In August, the Islamic State began a stunning campaign across northern Iraq from the city of Mosul, which it has controlled since June. Its fighters routed Kurdish forces from a number of areas, reaching within striking distance of the Kurdish regional capital, Irbil, before U.S. warplanes intervened to push the militants back.
Since then, pesh merga fighters have held on to those gains, backed by the threat of U.S. airstrikes. But Rabea and other towns west of Mosul have remained under Islamic State control.
A Kurdish parliament member, Majid al-Sinjari, said pesh merga forces hoped to advance on the jihadist-controlled town of Sinjar in the next two days. Sinjar was previously home to tens of thousands of Yazidis, an ethnic-religious minority that the Islamic State has deemed devil worshipers.
DeYoung reported from Washington. Mustafa Salim in Baghdad and Rebecca Collard and Suzan Haidamous in Beirut contributed to this report.