US to step up support for Turkey in Syria’s al-Bab: Commander

January 17, 2017 10:30 pm

Militants with the so-called Free Syrian Army play with a dog at a checkpoint belonging to the Daesh terror group near the town of Qabasin, located northeast of the city of al-Bab, some 30 kilometers from Aleppo, on January 8, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The United States vows to step up support for the Turkish forces by conducting airstrikes in ’s al-Bab, says the American spokesman for the so-called US-led coalition against Daesh terrorists.
US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian made the remarks Tuesday, adding that four strikes had recently been conducted near the Syrian town.
“These strikes eliminated Daesh’s capabilities around the forward line of enemy troops near the city,” Dorrian said. “This is something we expect to continue doing… Those targets were mutually developed, and we decided to strike them.”
The two countries’ military officers “will continue to work in combined headquarters, de-conflicting, coordinating and developing targets to maximize effects against Daesh, and avoid negative effects on this complex and crowded battlefield.”
Dorrian further suggested that the US might have forward air controllers on the ground with Turkish forces calling in the airstrikes, saying, “One of the things that we very much prize is to have boots on the ground operating in proximity or directly with our partner forces.”
“So that is the preferred alternative. And that is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful, especially in a very crowded and complex battlefield with a lot of different actors to make sure that we are hitting the targets that we intend to hit,” he said.
Ties between Washington and Ankara have been in tatters since a July 2015 coup attempt in , which the country’s officials blamed on an exile Turkish figure living in Pennsylvania.
The increase is announced amid a fragile thaw in relations between Turkey and Russia, which is also engaged in the Syrian crisis at the request of the government in Damascus, not favorable to authorities in Ankara.
Dorrian asserted that, “We do maintain our channel for deconfliction with the Russians. That’s a dialogue that we maintain and it’s a regular dialogue.”
The US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes allegedly against Daesh Takfiris in Syria and Iraq since 2014, without a UN mandate or permission from Damascus.
The airstrikes have, on many occasions, targeted civilians and government forces, raising suspicions about the West’s true objectives.
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