Turkey and the United States said Sunday that Washington would withdraw its Patriot missile batteries from the country in October after bolstering Ankara’s air defences against threats from Syria’s civil war.
The NATO mandate for the mission will run out in October and will not be renewed, but the US is prepared to return Patriot assets and personnel to Turkey within one week if needed, a joint Turkish-US statement said.
“They will be redeployed to the US for critical modernisation upgrades that will ensure the US missile defence force remains capable of countering evolving global threats and protecting Allies and partners, including Turkey,” the statement said.
It also emphasised that Washington remains “committed to supporting Turkey’s air defence capabilities, including against ballistic missile risks and threats… and its security and regional stability.”
A US defence official stressed that the move by the US military was for the purpose of force modernisation.
“It does not reflect a decision by the NATO Alliance to reduce support for Turkey’s air defence,” the official told AFP.
The decision comes less than a month after Turkey opened its southeastern Incirlik air base to US fighter jets to carry out bombing raids against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria.
The US and Turkish officials have said their respective armies are currently working to coordinate logistics before starting full-scale operations against IS.
Turkey turned to its NATO allies for help over its troubled frontier after shells landed on its border areas from Syria in October 2012, killing several villagers.
The United States, the Netherlands and Germany have provided a total of six Patriots batteries along the Turkish border with Syria. Germany on Saturday announced it would withdraw its two missile systems from Turkey from January 31, saying that the main threat in the region now came from the Islamic State group.
Originally used as an anti-aircraft missile, Patriots today are used to defend airspace by detecting and destroying incoming missiles. NATO deployed Patriot missiles in Turkey during the 1991 Gulf war and in 2003 during the Iraqi conflict.
Turkey is currently pressing a two-pronged “anti-terror” offensive against IS jihadists in Syria and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey following a wave of attacks inside the country.
Ankara launched its first air strikes against IS targets in late July but then put them on hold, instead concentrating its firepower on Kurdish militants in operations that have troubled its allies.
Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race
Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.
With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.
Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits
President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.
The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.
Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’
Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke — who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.