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Iran Press TV

Three US senators move to block F-35 transfers to Turkey

Iran Press TV

Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:43PM

Three US senators have introduced a resolution aimed at blocking the transfer of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey, which is a NATO ally of the United States.

The bill against the transfer of the high-tech, radar-evading American aircraft was introduced by Republicans James Lankford and Thom Tillis, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen on Thursday.

The three senators issued a joint statement in which they raised fears that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had embarked on a "path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law."

"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, US interests. These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan's regime increasingly risky," Lankford said in the statement.

The measure comes at a time of deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey over American backing for Kurdish fighters in north Syria.

Turkey started operation Olive Branch in Syria in late January with an alleged aim of pushing back Kurdish militants, known as the YPG, from the city of Afrin and surrounding areas. The Turkish military finally captured Afrin's central neighborhood after more than two months of fighting, which inflicted relatively heavy losses on its ranks.

The United States and its European allies, who support the Kurds, have criticized the operation. Turkey, however, has vowed to press ahead with attacks on positions of the YPG, which it sees as an arm of the outlawed militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) at home, until the entire territories west of the Euphrates River and Turkey's border in the south are secured.

On Tuesday, Erdogan rejected calls for to stop the controversial military operation in Syria, saying the fight would continue as part of Ankara's broader crackdown on Kurdish militants.

"We will continue to do what is necessary for our nation's tranquility. We will also do what is necessary in the northern part of Syria," said Erdogan while addressing members of his ruling AK party in Ankara.

Erdogan said the Syria operation was part of a wider effort by Turkey to go after Kurdish militants in the south of the country as well as in Iraq's mountainous Qandil region, where the PKK is based.

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