The US is ready to help Turkey against the Syrian army if Ankara removes the S-400 air defense system purchased from Russia, Kay Bailey Hutchison, the US permanent representative to NATO, said during a telephone briefing on Wednesday, according to the Bulgarian Military website.
“We hope that Turkey will be able to repulse Syrian aggression, as a result of which many Turkish soldiers were killed. We hope that we can collect a package of assistance to Turkey. We hope that Turkey will not deploy the Russian air defense system in its country – it holds back the potential that we can provide them to counter Syrian aggression,” Hutchinson said.
“We hope that the Turks … will remove the air defense system, which is located in the very center of Ankara,” she added.
On March 5 the presidents of Russia and Turkey met in Moscow after an escalation between Turkish and Syrian forces in the Syrian province of Idlib that left more than 30 Turkish soldiers dead. The meeting resulted in the announcement of a ceasefire whereby the parties agreed to jointly patrol the strategically important M4 highway.
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system has led to a rift with the US, with US and NATO officials repeatedly warning that the Russian-made system could undermine NATO systems by serving as a Trojan horse to gather intelligence for the Russian government.
Turkey went ahead with the purchase despite the warnings and started taking delivery of equipment last July.