Turkey Requests US Jets Patrol Near Idlib To Halt Russian Air Power

It's not just Patriot anti-air defense missile systems that Turkey is requesting from Washington, apparently, in order to halt Russian air power over Idlib. 

A bombshell report in Middle East Eye has cited Turkish defense officials who say Turkey's government has asked the US to begin aerial patrols over southern Turkey along the border with Syria's Idlib province

This latest report comes on the heels of the Patriot missile request being confirmed, a major unexpected flip vis-à-vis the prior pivot to Moscow which saw the controversial transferal of the Russian S-400 systems. 

F-22 Raptor file image via Reuters.

Ankara is also trying to get NATO more involved militarily after Erdogan has vowed to prevent pro-Assad forces from retaking Ildib, also amid a humanitarian crisis which could see a surge of some one million refugees toward the Turkish border. 

The new Middle East Eye report details

Turkey has asked the US to conduct aerial patrols in its airspace bordering the Syrian province of Idlib to show support for Ankara's ongoing military operations against forces loyal to Damascus, a Turkish official told Middle East Eye.

The request was made during US Special Envoy James Jeffrey's recent visit to Ankara, where he voiced strong support to "our NATO ally Turkey" as the Idlib crisis heats up. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also reportedly pressed Trump in a phone call to send military support. "He [Trump] promised that he would sanction the regime officials, or anyone involved in attacks against the civilians. And that he would issue strong-worded statements," a top Turkish official was quoted in the report as saying. "But he didn't commit himself to anything involving the military, yet."

"Another Turkish official said that Ankara was also waiting for a response from Nato to provide more support for its air defense needs," the report added.

But other than vocal condemnation and sanctions on Syrian officials for the ongoing offensive in Idlib, the White House is expected to sit on the sidelines, given Turkey is still giving every indication that it will activate its newly acquired S-400s

"We will get them operational in the spring. No doubt about this," Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said during a Wednesday interview with CNNTurk.