WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Turkey may find it hard to play a public role in the coalition the United States is building to strike at Islamic State targets in Iraq and possibly Syria for fear the militant group might retaliate against dozens of Turks held hostage.
President Barack Obama has said he hopes to devise a regional strategy to try to counter IS, which has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, but current and former U.S. officials say they expect Turkey to avoid any major public role.
An ally in the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, Turkey is the only Muslim nation in a "core coalition" of 10 countries committed to battle IS militants in Iraq that the United States announced on Friday at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales.
It is unclear to what extent the coalition may target IS in Syria, where the Islamist militants enjoy safe haven.
The bulwark of NATO's southeastern flank, Turkey has sensitive relations with seven sometimes unstable neighbors, bordering not only Syria, the origin of the IS threat, but Iraq, where the Islamist group took dozens of Turks hostage.