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Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

U.S. suspends strikes against IS group from Turkey base

U.S. suspends strikes against IS group from Turkey base

Measures were being taken to ensure the safety of personnel operating out of Turkey, Cook said.

"We urge USA citizens to contact family and friends to let them know you are safe", the embassy's statement said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said all NATO personnel and units in Turkey "are safe and secure".

The potential loss of Incirlik as a staging area and major base, even if temporary, comes at a challenging time for the US -led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. His statement did not address the current state of operations at Incirlik. In March, Pentagon and State Department ordered the families of US troops and diplomats to leave the country, citing security concerns raised by terrorist attacks across Turkey.

"U.S. officials are working with the Turks to resume air operations there as soon as possible", said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.

The coup attempt complicated USA -led efforts to combat Islamic State.

Demonstrators in Ankara, Turkey are demanding the death penalty for those behind the coup and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanding the U.S extradite a Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen - someone he blames for the attempted coup.

There was no indication when flights against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, would resume. But the closing of airspace changed that, Cook said Saturday.

One of the major points of contention between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Erdogan government since the start of anti-ISIS operations has been the inability - or the unwillingness - of the Turks to more effectively seal their southern border with Syria to prevent foreign fighters to pass through on their way to link up with ISIS.

However, Turkey has frustrated the West with its failure to aggressively confront the back and forth flow of extremists across Turkey's southern border. It is also accused of helping militant groups fighting the Syrian government. Washington invites Turkey to provide any legitimate evidence so the US could study it.

"Recent terrorist attacks by ISIS in the country have shown that Turkey is highly vulnerable to spill-over effects from the civil war that has raged in Syria for years". However, a defense official told Military.com Friday night that about 100 dependents were still in Turkey.

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the top North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander and head of the US military in Europe, said that Turkey remained an important partner in the coalition against Islamic State, also known as by the acronym ISIL.

Use of the base increased the length of time that USA and other allied warplanes could remain over Iraq and Syria.

Turkish budget carrier Pegasus said its flights were also experiencing minor delays.

Turkey has always been a complicated, sometimes unreliable partner in the fight against the Islamic State. Losing that advantage would significantly hamper operations, US commanders say. Germany has also deployed some 400 soldiers to the facility as part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation operations against IS.

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