Erdogan threatens to shutter 2 strategic US military bases
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Erdogan threatens to shutter 2 strategic US military bases

Turkish president responds to threat of US sanctions over Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile defense system

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, US President Donald Trump, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, background, pose during a photo for NATO leaders in Hertfordshire, England, December 4, 2019. (Peter Nicholls, Pool Photo via AP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, US President Donald Trump, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, background, pose during a photo for NATO leaders in Hertfordshire, England, December 4, 2019. (Peter Nicholls, Pool Photo via AP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday threatened to close two strategic military bases used by the United States in Turkey, after Washington warned Ankara of sanctions for buying Russian arms.

“If necessary, we can close Incirlik and we can close Kurecik,” Erdogan said on the pro-government A Haber television channel.

The two bases sit on Turkey’s southwest coast, near the border with Syria.

Erdogan has regularly raised the possibility of closing the bases in the past, during tensions between the two countries.

The US air force uses the airbase at Incirlik for raids on positions held by the so-called Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurecik base houses a major NATO radar station.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised the issue of the bases last week. Responding to the US threat of fresh sanctions, he warned that their closure could be “put on the table.”

A US Navy plane lands at the Incirlik Air Base, in Adana, southeast Turkey, July 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkey faces US sanctions over its decision to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system, despite warnings from Washington.

Also on Friday, Turkey summoned the US ambassador after the US Senate followed the lower house and voted to recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide. The bill has yet to be signed by US President Donald Trump.

Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings. Turkey claims the number of deaths was far lower and Turks also died, blaming the killings on the First World War.

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