The United States wants access to Turkish air bases; one in the south and the other one in the southeastern- which Washington hopes will become a strategic stronghold in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, according to a Turkish newspaper.
Habertürk newspaper quoted government sources as saying that US authorities have held serious talks with senior officials in Ankara over Washington's demand to open İncirlik base in the Adana province and a military base in the Kurdish-majority city and province of Diyarbakır for operations targeting ISIL positions.
Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait is currently used for strikes by US air forces and its allies. A Pentagon report said US-led coalition jets held 1,174 air strikes on ISIL positions in northern Syria during its 10-month long bombing campaign. The report showed that 1,200 of them were conducted to support connection of the self-declared cantons to declare an independent Kurdish state across northern Syria, which is a serious concern for Ankara.
Ankara has strongly criticized YPG fighters' campaign, which was conducted in the predominantly Arab and Turkmen areas as part of PYD's plan to settle Kurdish communities in these areas. A top Turkmen leader, Abdurrahman Mustapha, recently confirmed the Kurdish militia has conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign for an independent Kurdish state to be established just on the other side of Turkey's border with Syria.
The US ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, on Friday expressed that the US government has shared a mutual concern with Ankara about Syria's terrritorial integrity. “We still continue to work on this threat. We have forwarded Turkey's and our expectations to the Democratic Union Party for securing the territorial integrity of Syria," he said, urging that those who control the frontier zone should combat ISIL.
The ambassador was speaking on Friday at a recepting he held at his own residence to mark the July 4th US Indenpendence Day.
A political expert suggests Bass' remarks show that Ankara and Washington are now largely sympathetic over the protection of Syria's territorial integrity. “This amounts to the US meaning it already took the hint and will take on the responsiblity to urge the PYD to respect Syria's territorial integrity," said an expert, who refused to be named.
A government source said Washington is now awaiting a response from Ankara to review its demand to impose a safe zone and no-fly zone in the Syrian territory. “US principally wants the air bases to be opened to make a decision over Turkey's demands, connected with its border security and Syrian refugees. If Turkey opens its air bases for operations, the US will give assistance for armed groups supporting Turkey, that will actively be involved in the operations," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
According to US sources, Washington considers Turkey's demands on imposing the safe zone and no-fly zone in Syria as two different options, which are completely seperate from each other. The no-fly zone strategy seems to find a cold response in Washington because most of the US officials suggest that this is an option which is highly expensive and tough to impose as it requires war planes for patrolling duty and anti-aircraft launchers.
Officials said that the US and Turkey have already agreed that ISIL must be repelled from the Jarablus town, but failed to reach a concensus over whose direction and control it will come under.
Some political experts believe if the Kurdish militia,connected with the PYD, take any step to attack on Jarabulus, Turkey could interfere in this attempt, considering all kinds of risks. However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that nobody should expect Turkey will enter Syria tomorrow.
There are now three different choices on the table. Would the cleaning of ISIL from Jarabulus be in the PYD's hands, the opposition's hands or will it be carried out with Turkey's military intervention; no consensus has been reached about this, yet.
The question of who should contol Jarabulus is Turkey's red line. Turkey is seriously concerned that a corridor will be opened streching from Jarabulus to Afrin, if PYD-linked militia advances in Jarabulus. Ankara does not want PYD forces to go beyond the western bank of the Euphrates river.