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Turkey threatens to kick the US out of Incirlik airbase if US continues to team up with Kurds

The Yeni Safak newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing own sources, that Ankara could end the permission in case of the cooperation between Washington and the Kurds during operations against the Daesh terrorist group in the area of Raqqa.

The newspaper added that Ankara was also considering the possibility to close the country’s airspace for US aircraft.

The United States, along with several other countries, uses the Incirlik base for aircraft involved in the anti-Daesh campaign in Syria.

Incirlik Air base, located in the Incirlik province of the southern city of Adana, has strategic importance to the US. Most of the US’ air operations targeting the IS group have been conducted from Incirlik, with jets flying from the aircraft carrier located in the Mediterranean sea. Fuel delivering air tanks also take off from Incirlik airbase or US jets have to stop at Incirlik Air base for fuel delivery. US F-14 jets taking off from the aircraft carrier have been using Turkish air space to fly Syria and Iraq. If Turkey closes its air space, the US won’t be able to conduct any of its air operations through Turkey.

“If the US insists on operating with the PKK-PYD-YPG [Kurdistan Workers’ Party-Democratic Union Party-People’s Protection Units], American jets won’t be allowed to lift off [from Incirlik],” the Turkish daily reported.

Turkish authorities are still negotiating with the US on what course the Raqqa operation will take. Authorities have been awaiting a response from the US regarding Turkey’s proposal for two separate plans to take Raqqa.

On Monday Turkish president Erdogan threatened that the Turkey-backed FSA would target SDF-held Manbij, a move that has been viewed as a warning to halt the Raqqa operation. “Now that al-Bab has been cleared from Daesh [IS], the YPG terrorist-held Manbij is Turkey’s next target.”

PKK commander Murat Karayilan responded saying Turkey was “bluffing” with claims it would enter Manbij and join the Raqqa operation. Karayilan said Turkey would not be able to enter Manbij or Raqqa without US and Russian approval.

Ankara has declared several times that it is ready to share expertise with the US in tackling IS and becoming an ally on the ground, if the US respects Turkey’s ‘sensitivities’ about the PKK/PYD/YPG. Otherwise, Turkey will not let the US use Incirlik Airbase, Yenisafak reported.

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