Turkey-US airbase deal envisages Syria no-fly zone: Report

Turkey-US airbase deal envisages Syria no-fly zone: Report

ISTANBUL - A landmark deal between Turkey and the United States for US warplanes to use a Turkish airbase to attack Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria foresees a no-fly zone along part of the Syrian border, a report said Friday.

The agreement for US planes to use Incirlik base in southern Turkey envisages a 90-kilometre (56 mile) no-fly zone between the Syrian towns of Marea and Jarabulus to the east, the Hurriyet daily said.

The no-fly zone would back up a planned safe zone on the ground that would extend up to 50 kilometres (31 miles)inside Syria.

The safe zone would aim at preventing infiltration by IS and other jihadists to discourage a new flow of refugees to Turkey, it said.

The agreement comes after months of negotiations between Ankara and Washington.

US officials had grown increasingly frustrated over Turkey's reluctance to play a full role in the coalition against IS, including the use of Incirlik.

But a deadly suicide bombing in a Turkish border town blamed on IS followed by border clashes appear to have hardened Ankara's policy.

Turkish warplanes on Friday for the first time bombed IS targets in Syria.

Where necessary, US-led coalition forces could conduct reconnaissance and assault operations in the area, Hurriyet said.

"US planes equipped with bombs and missiles will be able to use the Incirlik Air Base" for raids against IS, the agreement says according to Hurriyet. Turkey could back up the air raids with artillery.

War planes of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not be able to enter the no-fly zone and will be targeted if they do so, it said.

The agreement does not foresee the arrival of any American ground troops in Turkey but an additional contingent of up to 50 US military staff will be allowed in for technical support.

The agreement only covers use of the Incirlik air base, which is close to the city of Adana just east of the Syrian border.

But US warplanes will be able to use the Batman, Diyarbakir and Malatya air bases in eastern Turkey in the event of an emergency, it said.

Without giving a precise date, Hurriyet said the Incirlik base would be opened for the US forces to use in raids on Syria "very soon".

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