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Turkey hits back; to ban US troops from airbases

Turkey hits back; to ban US troops from airbases

Ankara: In retaliation to America’s sanctions over the acquisition of the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Turkey may expel the US from Incirlik airbase.

“We will assess the worst-case scenario and make a decision. If the US imposes sanctions against Turkey, then the issue of the Incirlik and Kurecik bases may be on the agenda,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Mevlut Cavusoglu added that Ankara will not support NATO’s plan to protect the Baltic states until the alliance adopts a plan to protect Turkey from terrorist threats.

The US is hosted at Kurecik and Incirlik airbases. Incirlik is seen as particularly important to the US, both because it is used in the Syrian War, and is believed to be hosting a number of US nuclear weapons.

Deliveries of the latest Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, which caused a significant rift in relations between Turkey and the United States, began in July. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the S-400 will be fully operational in April 2020.

Washington demanded that Turkey cancel any deliveries of the Russian-made systems over fears that they are incompatible with NATO security standards and might compromise the operation of US F-35 fighter jets. Turkey has insisted that it will continue to accept the delivery of the S-400 systems.

The delivery of the F-35 stealth combat jets to Turkey was blocked by the US when Russia completed the first shipment of S-400 components in late July 2019. The second round of the deliveries was finalized in late September, ahead of schedule.

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