Turkish media on Friday announced that the United States and Turkish officials have reached an agreement that would allow U.S. forces to access Turkish air bases in order to fight ISIS. A finalized deal would give the U.S. crucial access from Turkey into Syria and Iraq that it has long wanted. The deal would shorten flight times on airstrikes against the Islamic terrorist group compared to flights from bases in Iraq or carriers based in the Persian Gulf. Turkey shares a 1250-kilometer border with Syria and with Iraq, where IS also controls broad swaths of territory.
If the agreement holds, the coalition will be positioned to conduct better surveillance over Syria and act quicker on intelligence than when it was limited to launching flights from places such as Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf states. Under the deal, the US military will be allowed to launch manned and unmanned flights from Incirlik; in the past, only unmanned drone flights were allowed. Turkey has yet to publicly confirm the agreement, which US officials discussed on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to comment publicly. White House spokesman Josh Earnest remained silent on the agreement but acknowledged that Obama and Erdogan had agreed to “deepen our co-operation.”