Turkey opens Incirlik Air Base for U.S.-led coalition’s warplanes

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US airforce F-16 warplanes lining to take off from the Incirlik Airbase. File photo

ARA News

Urfa, Turkey – Turkish government approved Friday the use of its air bases by the U.S.-led coalition’s forces in the war against the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) after talks held with a U.S. delegation in Ankara.

Sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry told reporters that a U.S. delegation held talks with Turkish officials in Ankara earlier this week.

“Subsequently, the Turkish government agreed to open the Incirlik Air Base for the U.S.-led coalition’s warplanes to hit locations of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) and forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This move opens the way for Turkey, a NATO member with large military capacities, to play an effective role in the U.S-led coalition against ISIS.

Ankara has been reluctant to allow the use of its air bases by the coalition’s warplanes in the anti-ISIS war. The agreement was reached after Turkey passed on its conditions of targeting pro-Assad headquarters beside those of ISIS by the U.S.-led coalition.  

Turkey has also called for the establishment of a buffer zone inside Syria as well as a no-fly zone to secure Turkey’s borders and stop the influx of refugees from Syria. Turkish government has also called for military training and equipment for the Syrian opposition fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Turkey did not conceal its wish for a Syrian territorial unity, refusing the establishment of a Kurdish autonomous entity in northern Syria. 

According to leaked information from the recently held Ankara meeting, the Turkish delegation, headed by Turkish Foreign Advisor Feridun Sinirlioglu Ihsanoglu, has insisted on the idea of ​​establishing a buffer zone in northern Syria. While the American delegation, headed by John Ellen (representative of U.S. President Barack Obama for anti-ISIS campaign) has reportedly reassured Ankara that the Kurdish forces will not advance to areas west of the Euphrates River. 

Speaking to ARA News, Syrian politician and lawyer Ferid Hisso said: “I don’t think the fight against the Syrian regime will be easily launched by the coalition at a similar level as the operations against ISIS.”

“The Turkish government has constantly refused to join the anti-ISIS war and prevented the use of its air bases by the coalition. Conditioning airstrikes against Assad regime is merely to save Turkey’s reputation after accusations of supporting ISIS,” he added, pointing out that the coalition’s priority now is to achieve victory on ISIS.

The Incirlik Air Base is located 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of Adana, the fifth largest Turkish city. The base is about 56 kilometers (35 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Reporting by: Jan Nasro

Source: ARA News

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