Turkey, World

Turkey has right to close Incirlik base: Erdogan aide

Strategic base could be closed, says aide, amid complaints US forces there not helping Turkey's anti-Daesh operations

05.01.2017
Turkey has right to close Incirlik base: Erdogan aide

Ankara

By Ilhan Toprak

ANKARA 

Turkey has the right to shut down its strategic Incirlik Airbase in the southern coastal Adana province, the president’s spokesman said Thursday.

"We always have this right. But as I said, first the conditions should be evaluated. We have the right to retrench as part of Turkey's sovereign rights," said Ibrahim Kalin, speaking on Turkish news channel Kanal 24.

Kalin's words came as Turkey is questioning the role of U.S.-led coalition operations against Daesh in Syria. 

He said Turkey has told U.S. officials it has not received sufficient support in its fight against Daesh and expects full support in its bid to drive Daesh terrorists out of Al-Bab, Syria. 

"Turkey will never allow the formation of a terrorist corridor in the region," Kalin said.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Peter Cook stressed the importance of the strategic airfield and said the U.S. is "very appreciative of the access" to Incirlik. 

"We certainly will continue to have our conversations with Turkey and make that point clear," he said. "It's a valuable and important part of our operations and we certainly hope and expect that it will continue."

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the U.S. has failed to provide air support to Turkish-backed opposition forces taking part in Operation Euphrates Shield against Daesh.

He said the Turkish people are wondering about the continued presence of U.S. forces at Incirlik, given that the U.S. is not supporting Turkey’s most significant operation.

Nevertheless, the U.S. remains “an important ally,” Cavusoglu said.

Following Cavusoglu's remarks, coalition spokesman Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters on Wednesday that Incirlik has been "absolutely invaluable" in the U.S.-led campaign against Daesh.

"The entire world has been made safer by the operations that have been conducted there," Dorrian added. "It's a very important base to the coalition and to the ongoing fight against Daesh."

Turkey allowed U.S. aircraft to be stationed at the base to conduct airstrikes against Daesh in 2015.


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