Turkey: No New Deal With US on Incirlik

Turkey: No New Deal With US on IncirlikTurkey: No New Deal With US on Incirlik

Turkey and the US have no new agreement on the use of incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, Turkish officials said on Monday, a day after US officials revealed that Ankara will let US and coalition forces use its bases, including incirlik, for operations against IS militants in Syria and Iraq, according to Turkish media.

Existing arrangements concerning the use of incirlik are still in force between Turkey and the US and there is no new understanding in addition to them, prime ministry sources were quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu.

Earlier on Sunday, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Turkey had agreed to let the US use its military bases in the campaign against IS militants. Rice said the US welcomed the new agreement, the BBC reported.

 Training ‘Moderate Rebels’

However, Turkey and the US did reach a new agreement on the training of what they call “moderate rebels”, the same Prime Ministry source was quoted as saying by Anadolu, echoing Washington’s remarks.

US officials confirmed Saturday that Ankara had agreed to train on Turkish soil the “moderate” militants.

“Turkey has agreed to support, train and equip efforts for the moderate Syrian opposition,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

A Turkish government official said Sunday that Turkey put the number at 4,000 “opposition fighters” and added they would be screened by Turkish intelligence, reported AP.

In recent days, IS militants have advanced against the Syrian town of Kobane, which has a border crossing point with Turkey.

The militants, who control some areas of Kobane, have been subjecting the rest of the town to a heavy bombardment but are continuing to meet stiff resistance from Kurdish forces there.

Neither side has been able to gain significant ground, despite the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes in support of the Kurds.

Turkey has ranged its military forces on the border but has so far ruled out any ground operation on its own, and has refused to allow Kurds in Turkey to cross the border to fight.

Earlier, the Turkish foreign minister defended Ankara’s inaction on the fight against the IS in neighboring Syria, saying “Turkey cannot give weapons to civilians” to fight the militants. He added that US-led airstrikes    were a “failure.”

 ‘Turkey, Saudi Provide IS With WMDs’

Meanwhile, Syria’s UN envoy has accused Turkey and Saudi Arabia of giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups fighting in the country. The charge precedes reports Kurdish fighters battling IS militants have been attacked with chemical weapons.

Bashar Jaafari told a UN committee on Friday that Turkey and Saudi Arabia should examine their own involvement in the Syrian conflict before leveling “null and baseless accusations [against] the Syrian government.”

In comments delivered to the UN’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security at the UN General Assembly, Jaafari accused Ankara and Riyadh of being “directly involved in providing these terrorist organizations with chemical weapons,” RIA-Novosti reported.

He further accused the countries of helping finance groups attempting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. He singled out Turkey in particular for allegedly supporting over 100 militant organizations currently active in Syria.

Rather than lend “a helping hand” to help Damascus put a halt to the crisis currently engulfing the country, the Turkish government has become “one of the main support bases for these terrorist organizations,” the Israeli- daily Haaretz cites Jaafari as saying.

 Hallmarks of WMD Attack

Photographs obtained by the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA Journal) which were published on Sunday appear to support accusations IS militants have deployed chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters, who have been under siege in the northeastern Syrian city of Kobane since September 16.

According to the documentary evidence, which cannot be independently verified, three slain Kurdish fighters were inflicted with “burns and white spots” while not bearing any visible wounds or external bleeding.

The reported injuries could indicate that a chemical agent, potentially mustard gas, was deployed, MERIA said.

The experts said, however, that more evidence would be needed to conclude the Kurdish fighters had died due to a chemical attack.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, one of the world’s leading chemical weapons experts, told RT that if the MERIA photos are genuine, the injuries depicted would be “consistent with a blister agent, like Mustard [gas].”

“We know that IS militants have already used chlorine in Iraq against the Iraqi army,” he added.

The journal suggests IS may have obtained the weapons following the seizure of the alleged Muthanna chemical weapons compound.