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3 Mar, 2020 16:43

US ‘willing’ to give Turkey ammo amid Ankara’s military standoff with Syrian army in Idlib

US ‘willing’ to give Turkey ammo amid Ankara’s military standoff with Syrian army in Idlib

Washington is ready to supply NATO ally Turkey with ammunition amid mounting tensions in Idlib, where Ankara is in an open conflict with Syrian government forces.

The promise was made by US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey, who visited Turkey's border province of Hatay on Tuesday.

“Turkey is a NATO ally” and mostly uses US-made military hardware, Jeffrey pointed out.

We're willing to provide – for example, the President [Donald Trump] mentioned this – ammunition. 

The US “will make sure that that equipment is ready. As a NATO partner we share information intelligence... and we are going to ensure that they have what they need there."

According to the representative, Ankara’s plea for humanitarian assistance was also heard in Washington.

Separately on Tuesday, the US State Department announced that it will give $108 million of additional humanitarian assistance to the people in northern Syria.

The help comes as Turkey intensified its military activities in Idlib – the last remaining terrorist stronghold in Syria – in response to a major offensive in the area by Damascus. The clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces have seen numerous casualties on both sides in recent weeks.

Also on rt.com Idlib escalation: Turkey confirms it has downed Syrian fighter jet

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Vladimir Putin, in order to find a way to defuse the situation. Erdogan said that he was hoping that a ceasefire in idlib could be reached as a result of the negotiations.

But it seems that the US wants to be on top of this meeting too. Jeffrey claimed that Washington was “in close consultation with the Turks (and) we are seeing what kind of diplomatic positions they will be taking” in the Russian capital.

Also on rt.com Erdogan to visit Moscow on March 5, Ankara confirms, as Turkey-Syria conflict escalates

In 2018, a de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib by Russia and Turkey in order to finally bring peace to the province. But that goal hasn’t been achieved yet, with Ankara blaming Damascus for violating the ceasefire and attacking civilians.

Russia, on its part, keeps reminding Turkey that it never fulfilled its promise to separate moderate rebels from jihadists in Idlib. Instead, the Turkish army troops had been spotted attacking the Syrian positions among the ranks of the militants.

After 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib last week, Ankara called for an emergency meeting of NATO and asked for military assistance. But the bloc could only express “full solidarity” with Ankara, stopping short of making any promises. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the organization was already augmenting Turkish air defenses and conducting patrols of AWACS air reconnaissance planes. Ankara’s call for a no-fly zone over Idlib wasn’t even seriously discussed, the sources said.

Also on rt.com NATO offers Turkey condolences & solidarity, but no additional military aid amid Idlib crisis

Turkey also won’t be getting any air support from the US during its incursion in northern Syria. When asked about the possibility of such involvement on Monday, Pentagon Chief Mark Esper responded by simply saying: “No.”

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