Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik says the lack of US air support for Ankara's military operations in Syria is giving rise to negative public sentiment over Washington’s use of Turkey’s Incirlik airbase.
For the past few weeks, Turkey has been voicing its dissatisfaction with the US-led coalition's refusal to provide air support for the operations which Ankara claims are aimed at liberating the Syrian town of al-Bab from the Daesh terrorist group.
On Wednesday, Isik said that "this is leading to serious disappointment in the Turkish public opinion."
"We are telling our allies... that this is leading to questions over Incirlik," he said in reference to the airbase located in the city of Adana in southern Turkey, where the coalition keeps the planes involved in its alleged anti-Daesh campaign.
"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 Daesh,... don't give the support we asked for," Isik said.
He went on to voice hopes that the US and its allies would sooner start air support for Turkey’s operations.
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also criticized Washington's lack of air support for the Turkish military operation in northern Syria and questioned the presence of US personnel at the Turkish airbase.
"If you are not supporting us in the most significant operation, then why are you based at the Incirlik airbase?" Cavusoglu asked, adding, however, that the US remained “an important ally.”
Back in August, Turkey launched an incursion into Syria, claiming that it was meant to engage both Daesh terrorists in the Syrian-Turkish border area and Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh. Damascus has on multiple occasions condemned Turkey’s military intervention as a breach of its sovereignty.
In December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that the US had failed to keep its promise of air support in Ankara’s operations in the Arab country.
"Even though the US-led coalition has failed to keep its promises [pledging air support] in our operation to liberate al-Bab, we will rid the city of Daesh terrorists, no matter what," he said.
US gives in to Turkish pressure
Following Turkey’s veiled threat, a US military official said the coalition was ready to back the Turkish forces deployed in northern Syria and that talks on the subject were underway.
"I can confirm for you that those discussions have been happening and the Turks are aware of some of the things that might be in store," said Colonel John Dorrian.
He noted that US aircraft had recently flown over al-Bab in relation to Ankara’s requests as a "show of force" but had not dropped any bombs.
The developments come as Turkey is said to be among the main supporters of militant groups in Syria and stands accused of training and arming Takfiri elements, facilitating their passage into the violence-wracked country, and buying smuggled oil from militants.