Turkey Says US Likely to Lose Incirlik Air Base

Turkey Says US Likely to Lose Incirlik Air Base
Thu Jan 5, 2017 14:47:23

Turkish Defense Minister said the United States and the US-led coalition member states could lose the use of Turkey's Incirlik Air Base.

Fikri Isik said "the fact that anti-ISIL coalition countries, Ankara's allies at NATO, do not support the operation by Turkish-allied forces to capture al-Bab is truly intriguing", Anadolu reported.

"This, in Turkey, raises questions about the Incirlik," added Isik, speaking to reporters in Ankara, in a tone reflecting his government's discontent with the US policy in Syria which has been fixated on a reliance on Kurdish groups Turkey considers "terrorist."

The Turkish government opened Incirlik in the Southern Mediterranean province of Adana to anti-ISIL operations only in July 2015 after long negotiations with the US.

"Our expectation from our allies is the provision of, particularly, air support during this operation in every condition. You are saying that you are fighting ISIL, yet are not giving the necessary aid we demand. This, in turn, leads to questioning by the public of your sincerity in fighting ISIL," continued Isik.

Isik's comments followed a late December rebuke from a spokesperson for President Recep Tayyip who complained of a lack of support in al-Bab, a town 30 kilometers (18 miles) South of Turkish border which the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) too wants to control.

The US initially supported Turkey's Syria incursion dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield from the air when it began in August 2016 with the swift capture of the border town of Jarablus.

On an occasion even the US soldiers embedded to help Turkish-backed FSA were ousted from the nearby town of al-Rai by those very militants in September.

Later as Turkey started targeting the YPG, the US withdrew its support leaving its NATO ally alone in the now weeks-long, costly fight for al-Bab.

More than 30 Turkish troops have been killed, dozens of tanks lost.

Washington considers YPG as one of the most effective and reliable ground troops fighting the ISIL.

Instead, a Russia with which Turkey has had dramatic ups and downs in diplomacy launched airstrikes in an apparent support for the Turkish campaign in al-Bab.

There have previously been suggestions of moving Western forces stationed at Incirlik out to a second country in the Middle East.


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