US divided over Turkey support in Syria due to Russian missile purchase: envoy

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James Jeffrey

There is no unanimity in Washington over support for Turkey in Syria’s Idlib region because of Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 defense system, US Syria envoy James Jeffrey said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Fighting in Idlib has intensified in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian government forces mounted an offensive to retake the last rebel-held bastion in the country, displacing nearly a million people.

Turkey, which supports rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has launched a counter-offensive and asked its NATO allies for support, including a request to the United States to use US Patriot missiles.

However, Washington and Ankara have been at odds over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian missile system, which Washington says is not compatible with NATO defenses and may compromise its F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Speaking in İstanbul, Jeffrey repeated that Washington had already offered humanitarian assistance and information sharing with Turkey, but added that US officials were divided over any further support.

“There is not unanimity of views in Washington on what to do and how fast to do it. This is still being reviewed,” Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria engagement, told a panel discussion on Idlib in Istanbul, describing the S-400 issue as “a very serious concern for the US Congress and for our defense establishment.”

Jeffrey said Turkey and the United States were looking for ways to work around the S-400 issue, reiterating that the United States was pressing its NATO and European allies for significant contributions to efforts in Idlib.

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