U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged Turkey on Tuesday to do more to help destroy Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants as he kicked off a tour of the Middle East that aims to drum up regional support for the military campaign.
Speaking to reporters while traveling to the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, Carter said Ankara needed to better control its border with Syria, particularly a roughly 60-mile (98-km) stretch believed to be used by ISIS for illicit trade and for shuttling foreign fighters back and forth.
“Turkey has an enormous role to play,” said Carter, on his first trip to Incirlik as defense secretary. “We appreciate what they’re doing. We want them to do more.”
That includes Turkish forces joining “in the air and the ground as appropriate,” Carter said. “The single most important contribution that their geography makes necessary is the control of their own border.”
Incirlik has grown more important in the U.S.-led campaign of air strikes against ISIS, with 59 U.S., Turkish, Qatari and German aircraft conducting refueling, intelligence, and strike missions now operating out of the base, up from about 15 from all coalition countries at the beginning of September, U.S. officials said.
That number is expected to increase in the coming weeks and months, though officials did not provide details.
Around 45 of the 59 aircraft using Incirlik are from the United States and include both manned and unmanned.
The United States has pushed for a more assertive Turkish contribution in fighting the Islamic State, particularly in securing the border with Syria, but also in seeing more Turkish air strikes devoted to ISIS.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر