Defense minister says lack of coalition support for al-Bab operation opens İncirlik up to debate

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Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık arrives for the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meetings at Lancaster House in London on September 8, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Işık has said the lack of support from the US-led coalition forces in Syria for a Turkish-backed operation in the al-Bab region in Syria’s north aimed at clearing it of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants has caused Turkey to question the status of its İncirlik Air Base.

“We hope that all the coalition forces, mainly the US, will give the aerial support and other kinds of support Turkey needs for its Operation Euphrates Shield and that the necessary steps are taken without any delay. It is thought provoking that the countries with which we have been together for years in NATO and those which established a coalition against Daesh [another acronym for ISIL] have not supported this operation launched by the Free Syrian Army and supported by the Turkish Armed Forces against Daesh in the critical region of al-Bab,” Işık said on Wednesday.

İncirlik is considered a pivotal and convenient location for US operations in Syria and in the greater region.

As part of Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive ISIL terrorists from the border city of Jarabulus on Aug. 24, in a dramatic escalation of its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

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