Senators worried about Turkey using F-35s against US-backed Kurds succesfully block delivery

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg   Getty Images  


A bipartisan letter postmarked 15 June sponsored by 44 members of the US House of Representatives called on the US government to prevent the delivery of F-35s to Turkey, expressing no confidence that Turkey will use the F-35s responsibly, and could target Kurds.

The letter had its effect since the US Senate on Monday blocked the delivery of the F-35s, but Turkey says they will still be delivered on time.

The letter was addressed to US Defense Secretary James Mattis. 

“We also have no confidence that Turkey will use F-35s responsibly in the region. Under the guise of targeting the PKK, Turkey has bombarded civilian areas and U.S.-supported Kurdish YPG forces,” the letter reads.

“Turkish attacks have also killed Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq. Turkey's assault on Afrin in Northern Syria has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced more than one hundred thousand others,” the letter also said.

The Senators said that Turkey is threatening US troops in northern Syria.

“In the face of international condemnation, Turkey is expanding its campaign in Northern Syria and has set its sights on Manbij, where U.S. troops maintain a presence in the continuing fight against ISIS. Turkey's duplicity and military adventurism in Syria have given an advantage to ISIS, Iran, and Russia, as well as to extremist rebel forces, all at the expense of the United States,” the senators said.

“Erdogan's outrageous threat to attack American soldiers in Syria is reason enough to block the delivery of any military sales to the Republic of Turkey, let alone the most advanced generation of military attack aircraft,” the senators concluded.

The U.S. Senate took a step on Monday to block the delivery of F-35 warplanes to Turkey with an amendment in a $716 billion defence policy bill. But this will not become law until later in the summer and until the House ratifies the bill.

Nevertheless, Turkey expects that the US will deliver the first F-35 joint strike fighters on June 21 with a ceremony despite the U.S. Senate decision, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said.