WASHINGTON Considering that Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet last week, the United States has quietly put on hold a lengthy-standing request for its NATO ally to play a a lot more active role in the U.S.-led air war against Islamic State.
The move, disclosed to Reuters by a U.S. official, is aimed at permitting just adequate time for heightened Turkey-Russia tensions to ease. Turkey has not flown any coalition air missions in Syria against Islamic State since the Nov. 24 incident, two U.S. officials mentioned.
The pause is the newest complication over Turkey’s function to have tested the patience of U.S. war planners, who want a a lot more assertive Turkish contribution — specifically in securing a section of border with Syria that is noticed as a essential provide route for Islamic State.
As Britain begins strikes in Syria and France ramps up its part in the wake of last month’s attacks on Paris by the extremist group, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter publicly appealed this week for a higher Turkish military role.
The best U.S. priority is for Turkey to safe its southern border with Syria, the first official stated. U.S. concern is focused on a roughly 60-mile (98-km) stretch used by Islamic State to shuttle foreign fighters and illicit trade back and forth.
But the United States also desires to see far more Turkish air strikes devoted to Islamic State, even as Washington firmly supports Ankara’s strikes against Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Celebration (PKK), viewed by each countries as a terrorist group.
Carter told a congressional hearing this week that most Turkish air operations have been targeted at the PKK rather than at Islamic State, but U.S. officials acknowledge some promising signs from Turkey, like moves to secure key border crossings.
For example, Turkish F-16 fighter jets last month joined an air operation to assistance Syrian rebels taking back two villages from Islamic State along the so-known as Mara Line, a senior Obama administration official told reporters, speaking on situation of anonymity.
The United States does not give information on the quantity or sort of missions performed by Turkish air force flights in Syria.
Turkey rejects any suggestion it is not playing its component in the fight against ISIL.
“We have taken part in at least half of the operations,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters. “Apart from that, Turkey takes portion in identifying targets and offering logistics and bases. We are in close cooperation with the U.S.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin branded Turkey’s shoot-down a war crime on Thursday and mentioned Turkey would face additional sanctions. Moscow has already banned some Turkish food imports as portion of a wider package of retaliatory sanctions.
The United States hopes that tensions among Moscow and Ankara will ease rapidly, permitting Turkey to take a more prominent role inside the U.S.-led coalition’s air campaign, the very first official mentioned.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the status of Turkish flights given that the shoot-down. Two Turkish officials declined to straight comment but stressed that Turkey remained portion of the air coalition.
“For us practically nothing has changed,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
U.S. officials stressed that overall coalition air operations had been unaffected by the tensions in between Turkey and Russia.
There is debate inside the Obama administration on how challenging to push Turkey. U.S. officials broadly acknowledge its assistance has been crucial to the U.S.-led campaign in Syria, permitting the coalition to stage strike missions out of a Turkish air base.
Turkey, for its component, has grown frustrated over the past handful of years at what it sees as indecision on the element of the United States and its Western allies, arguing that only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from energy can bring lasting peace.
(Extra reporting by Nick Tattersall in Istanbul and Jonathan Landay in Washington editing by Stuart Grudgings.)
Agen Sabung Ayam