The head of Turkey's armed forces has publicly intervened to support the deployment of US troops inside Turkey for a possible war against Iraq.
Turkey's armed forces are very influential
Chief of General Staff Hilmi Ozkok said allowing US troops to attack Iraq from Turkish territory in the north would shorten the war.
"The Turkish armed forces' view is the same as the government's," General Ozkok said.
Turkey's armed forces wield considerable influence in Turkish politics and the general's remarks are seen as significant following Saturday's vote in the Turkish parliament to reject a bill to allow US troops on Turkish soil.
Our choice is between bad and worse
General Hilmi Ozkok
Chief of Staff
The government has hinted that the bill may be presented again but it could be delayed by up to three weeks.
Turkey stands to lose a $15bn package of loans and aid - the promised US compensation for the cost of hosting 62,000 American troops.
"Turkey is not capable of preventing the war on its own ... our choice is between bad and worse... If we do not participate, we will suffer the same war damage, but it will never be possible to compensate for them and have a say after the war," General Ozkok said.
TURKEY'S MILITARY IMPORTANCE
US plans: To deploy 62,000 troops. Equipment currently on transport ships in Mediterranean or in portAirborne division flown into Kurdish controlled northern Iraq
Massive and speedy land invasion from south
Options if Turkey refuses:
The top general said it was in Turkey's best interests to be involved.
"We thought that because of a northern front, the war would be shorter, the suffering would be less, there would be no unexpected developments and fewer people would die," General Ozkok said.
The reintroduction of the government bill to parliament is expected to be delayed until after Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), fights a crucial by-election this Sunday.
Mr Erdogan was previously banned from parliament on
charges of "Islamist sedition" and correspondents believe he will take over the prime minister's post now occupied by Abdullah Gul if he wins the election.