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NATO Considering Use of AWACS Surveillance Planes in Anti-Daesh Fight

Sputnik News

15:03 23.01.2016

NATO has confirmed it is considering using the alliance's AWACS to assist the US-led coalition in its fights against Daesh in Syria.

NATO country members are discussing a request to use AWACS air surveillance aircraft in the battle against Daesh militants in Syria.

Currently, the US is spearheading an anti-Daesh coalition of some 60 countries, including 28 NATO member states, in Syria. The move will mark a departure for NATO which up to now has not been involved in direct combat actions against Daesh.

'We can confirm there has been a request for concrete support from NATO to the anti-ISIL effort in the form of NATO AWACS surveillance planes,' a NATO official was quoted as saying by AFP.

The request is currently being discussed by allies, the source added, without identifying which country had submitted the request.

US officials said that recently Defense Secretary Aston Carter had sent letters to all members of the coalition seeking additional support.

The unit of AWACS – Airborne Early Warning and Control System surveillance aircraft – comprises over 20 planes which can locate and identify aircraft targets within a radius of 400 kilometers.

The fleet could operate as flying command posts, communicating with other aircraft and helping them to coordinate the coalition's airstrikes against Daesh.

'Any decision would be in line with the Wales summit declaration which indicates NATO's readiness to support the bilateral efforts of allies,' the official pointed out.

Diplomatic sources told AFP that an agreement could involve NATO deploying its AWACS planes to the US to free up aircraft Washington could then use for anti-Daesh airstrikes.

'There would be no direct NATO role in the anti-IS [anti-Daesh] coalition,' the source said. 'There will be no NATO AWACS planes over Iraq or Syria.'

NATO has so far refused to involve itself in the Syrian conflict, partly due to concerns from such members as Germany that NATO's engagement would complicate peace talks, according to Deutsche Welle.

Daesh is currently one of the main threats to global security. In three years, the terrorist group seized large parts of Iraq and Syria. In addition, they have been trying to establish their influence in North African countries, particularly in Libya. According to estimates, Daesh now controls an area of up to 90,000 square kilometers. Between 50,000 and 200,000 fighters are said to be fighting in its ranks.

However, there is no united anti-Daesh front. Among those fighting the militants are the Syrian army, a US-led international coalition, the Iraqi Armed Forces as well as Kurdish fighters, Lebanese and Iraqi Shia militia troops.

On September 30, at the request of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia launched airstrikes against Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in Syria.


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