US Declines to Support Turkish Offensive in Syria With Airstrikes

Officials Say Airstrikes Would Be Complicated With Russia Also Backing Turkey in al-Bab

Faced with growing tensions with the Turkish government and the risk of being expelled from the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, the Pentagon has been pushing to increase military support for Turkish forces attacking the ISIS city of al-Bab. Turkey requested air support, and the Incirlik talk is based on not getting it.

Support has been increasing, however, officials say, but so far that’s just involved more flights over the city, now being styled as “aerial intelligence surveillance” flights trying to help Turkey with the positioning of ISIS forces around the area.

That’s likely to be a sore spot with Turkey, who weeks ago requested air support from the US-led coalition, and expressed annoyance when the US sent one plane, dropping no bombs, and declared it a “show of force.” Since then, Turkey has only gotten a few more overflights out of the US. Russia, by contrast, carried out some airstrikes against ISIS targets in the area around al-Bab, really stealing the Pentagon’s thunder on the overflights.

Russia’s strikes are a problem, US officials say, as they mostly don’t feel comfortable carrying out  bombing raids in the same places Russia is bombing, and officials say that doing so would require a lot of effort to “deconflict” the US and Russian warplanes flying in the same area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of