- Title: Turkey criticises lack of NATO air support in Syria's al-Bab
- Date: 4th January 2017
- Summary: ADANA, TURKEY (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF U.S. JETS TAKING OFF FROM INCIRLIK AIRBASE VARIOUS OF U.S. JETS TAXIING ON TARMAC
- Embargoed: 19th January 2017 12:39
- Keywords: Turkey United States Syria Al-Bab Incirlik Fikri Isik
- Location: ANKARA & ADANA, TURKEY
- City: ANKARA & ADANA, TURKEY
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0025XO16PZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Turkey on Wednesday (January 4) criticised a lack of NATO air support for a Turkish-backed offensive by Syrian rebels to take the town of al-Bab from Islamic State.
"It is thought-provoking that ally countries, especially countries with whom we have worked together in NATO for many years, countries who formed a coalition against the Islamic State, do not support the operation Turkish armed forces and the Free Syrian Army have started in al-Bab, a key town in the fight against Daesh," Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik said.
NATO members Turkey and the United States are at odds over the role of Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria, who have frontlines close to al-Bab. Turkey views them as a hostile force, but they have received U.S. backing in the fight against Islamic State.
Turkey had called on the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State to provide air support for the operation around al-Bab, which has not so far been forthcoming.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Tuesday (January 3) the U.S.-led coalition carried out flights in support of Turkish forces near al-Bab last week but did not carry out air strikes.
"This causes Turkey to question the Incirlik airbase. But we have a long-standing alliance. We must solve our problems at the table. Talks are underway between military and civilian officials. We hope that all coalition forces, especially the United States, will provide the air support we need," Isik said.
The U.S. Air Force has around 5,000 personnel at the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, which serves as a hub for the U.S.-led coalition trying to defeat Islamic State over the borders in Syria and Iraq.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria, dubbed "Euphrates Shield", more than four months ago to drive Islamic State away from its border. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have besieged al-Bab for several weeks as part of the offensive.
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