The U.S. military has effectively shut Turkey off Monday from the air space in northeastern Syria, taking a series of actions that reduce the possibility that Turkish jets could support a planned military operation there.
Pentagon spokeswoman Carla Gleason told reporters the Combined Air Operations Center has removed Turkey from the anti-Daesh coalition’s air tasking order, the means by which it coordinates the flights of partner nations operating in the theater, and halted Turkey’s access to surveillance information.
She stopped short of saying that the air space has been shut down to Turkey, but noted “if you’re not on the air tasking order, it’s really hard to coordinate flights in that area.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has been facing mounting pressure in Washington after the White House announced late Sunday the U.S. would pull back its forces from northeastern Syria ahead of the “long-planned” Turkish operation.
The Trump administration has ruled out any U.S. support for the mission, and in the face of significant pushback the president vowed “if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey.”
Turkey has long called for the U.S. to partner with it in the fight against Daesh, a terror group Ankara has worked to root out, arresting and deporting its members within Turkey.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home to Western Syria.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the Syrian branch of the terrorist organization PKK.
*Kasim Ileri contributed to this report from Washington
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