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‘NATO to fly AWACS in Turkish airspace’

5 July 2016 14:05

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NATO says it will approve on Friday the use of sophisticated AWACS surveillance aircraft for flights in Turkish and international airspace near the conflict zones in the Middle East.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Monday the aircraft would “provide information” to the US-led coalition purportedly targeting Daesh positions in Iraq and Syria.

He made the announcement while outlining the agenda of the two-day summit, which will open in the Polish capital Warsaw on Friday.

Officials of the military bloc have said the AWACS planes would use Turkish or international skies, but they would be capable of peering electronically into Daesh-held areas in Iraq and Syria.

NATO is not involved in the military campaign, but a number of alliance members such as the US, France and the UK have been carrying out airstrikes against what they call terrorist targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

In late January, Stoltenberg said Washington had asked NATO to assist the US with AWACS surveillance aircraft in the Syria war.

AWACS is a radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.


An AWACS aircraft take off during the Lithuanian-NATO air force exercise at the Siauliai airbase, April 1, 2014. ©AP

However, military experts have questioned the use of such a complicated system against Daesh and other militants, as claimed by the US and NATO.

Such a deployment is expected to heighten NATO’s tensions with Russia, which has been conducting air raids on terrorist bases inside Syria since last September.

Stoltenberg said NATO leaders will also discuss expanding a mission aimed at providing training to Iraqi forces inside the Arab country as well as Jordan.

More on their agenda, NATO leaders would discuss a rise in the military alliance’s military budget by three percent, or $8 billion.

“The Warsaw Summit will renew our commitment to spend more on defense and to spend better,” said the NATO chief, adding the alliance will also “agree to further enhance our military presence in the eastern” member states.

NATO’s eastward military buildup has bitterly angered Russia, which has threatened unspecified measures to respond to the increased activities by the Western military bloc.

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