Ankara threatens to ground US fighters at key Turkish air base

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Wednesday that his country would consider not allowing the US to use its Incirlik Air Base in light of Washington's refusal to help the Turkish air force carry out operations in the area of the Syrian city of Al-Bab. He said the US lack of assistance "is leading to serious disappointment in Turkish public opinion" that "is leading to questions over Incirlik." Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu commented regarding the issue that "We have cooperation (with the US) in every field, but there is the reality of a confidence crisis in the relationship at the moment." DEBKAfile's intelligence sources report that the crisis has been created by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to pressure the US into extraditing exiled Turkish opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara claims initiated the country's attempted military coup. Washington, however, is dragging its feet and is not rushing to help the Turkish air force in order to avoid confrontation with forces from the Kurdish YPG militia, which is backed by the Pentagon, operating in the area of Al-Bab.

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