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Turkey Questions Presence of US-Led Coalition at Incirlik Air Base Amid ‘Confidence Crisis’

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The Turkish government has questioned the deployment of US-led coalition’s aircraft at the Incirlik air base.

Turkey Questions Presence of US-Led Coalition at Incirlik Air Base Amid ‘Confidence Crisis’

Photo: AP Photo / Emrah Gurel

Turkey’s authorities have questioned the deployment of the US-led coalition’s air forces at the Incirlik air base, citing a “confidence crisis” with the US and inadequate support, providing by the coalition to Turkish ground forces in Syria.

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish troops, deployed in Syria as part of Operation Euphrates Shield, receive very poor aerial support by the US-led coalition.

“Our people ask, ‘why are they using the Incirlik Airbase. We allowed not only the US but also other countries’ jets to use Incirlik to jointly fight [Islamic State],” Cavusoglu told the Anadolu news agency on Wednesday. “What purpose are you serving if you do not provide aerial support against Daesh [the Islamic State] in the most sensitive operation for us?” he added.

The Turkish Foreign Minister called Washington a “very important ally,” but at the same time stressed that there is “the reality of a confidence crisis in the relationship at the moment.”

He also accused the US of supporting Kurdish militias, who are considered by Ankara as terrorists, as well as of “preferring terrorist organizations over its ally [Turkey].”

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik echoed the Cavusoglu’s statements, noting that the lack of air support of the US-led coalition for the Turkey’s military operation in al-Bab “raises questions” about the American presence at Incirlik.

“We hope that all coalition forces, primarily the US, give air and other support that Turkey needs in the Euphrates Shield operation and the necessary step will be taken soon,” the Hurriyet newspaper quoted his words.

“But it is thought-provoking that despite the fact we have been NATO allies for years, and that a coalition has been established to fight against ISIL, the coalition does not support the Euphrates Shield operation launched by the Free Syrian Army and supported by the Turkish armed forces,” Isik added.

At the same time, on Thursday, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, also noted that Ankara has not received enough support from Washington in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, adding that he had the feeling that US President-elect Donald Trump would pay more attention to “sensitivities” of Turkey.

On Thursday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak also said that the issue of the Incirlik air base was on the government’s agenda.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the US-led coalition, Col. John Dorrian, responded the statements of the Turkish government. According to Dorrian, any steps to limit air operations at Incirlik would result in a disastrous outcome.

“The entire world has been made safer by the operations that have been conducted there,” the colonel said. “It’s a very important base to the coalition and to the ongoing fight against Daesh,” he concluded.

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