'Turkey, US to hold 2nd talks on F-35 issue in following months'

Turkish Defense Ministry sources deny claims that Russian jets deployed to Qamishli.

'Turkey, US to hold 2nd talks on F-35 issue in following months'

Delegations from the Turkish and US defense ministries plan to hold the second meeting on the F-35 issue in Washington in a few months, Turkish Defense Ministry sources said Monday.

The US and Turkey held another round of talks aimed at resolving the dispute over Ankara's removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Pentagon announced last Wednesday.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that the negotiations will continue, the sources said, adding: "The first meeting was held. Both sides presented their perspectives and their own positions. The second meeting is planned to be held in Washington in a few months. In talks, methods for solutions to problems are discussed."

In response to the question of whether the issues related to Turkey's return to the F-35 program will also be discussed during the meetings, the sources said: "We have put forward our position. We have an opinion, firstly, to return to the F-35 program, and secondly, to deliver the allocated aircraft if this does not happen, the money we paid will be refunded. Negotiations will continue in this context."

On the allegations that "Russian jets were deployed to Qamishli in northeastern Syria, the sources said: "There are some images circulating on social media. These images are only for an activity carried out for that day. It's about a plane landing and then leaving. There is no deployment. "

Regarding the supply of the SAMP-T (Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain), the sources noted that besides the development of domestic systems, work on the supply of air defense systems continues.

The US under former President Donald Trump removed Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program in 2019 over Ankara's purchase of Russia's advanced S-400 anti-air system, which US officials maintain poses risks to the F-35s, including the possibility that Russia could covertly use the system to obtain classified details on the jet.

Turkey has maintained it only turned to the Russian system after it failed to reach terms during protracted negotiations with the US over the acquisition of Raytheon's Patriot surface-to-air missile systems. Ankara has additionally said the S-400 poses no risk to the F-35.

Turkey ordered some 100 F-35s, and its defense sector played prominently in the development and manufacture of the fifth-generation fighter jets.

32,835 terrorists neutralized since July 2015

Speaking at a news conference, ministry spokeswoman Maj. Pinar Kara underlined the fight against all terrorist organizations, including FETO, PKK, Daesh/ISIS, continues.

Kara said a total of 32,835 terrorists in northern Iraq and Syria, have been neutralized since July 24, 2015, with 2,360 of them since the beginning of this year.

Turkish forces carried out 27 domestic and cross-border anti-terror operations against such groups, neutralizing 279 terrorists in October, Kara added.

She said that with the latest developments in Afghanistan, the current situation was reviewed and additional measures were taken against possible mobility on the Iranian border.

Some 471 people were caught trying to cross all our borders illegally in October, 38 of those are terrorists, including 24 FETO members, while 22,406 were prevented from doing so, she said.

Syria

Terrorist formations in northern Syria were prevented and continues to be so through the Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, Peace Spring, and Spring Shield operations, Kara stressed saying the peace and security of the people of the region were thus ensured.

The Turkish Armed Forces neutralized 169 terrorists, including the Daesh/ISIS members in the operation zones in Syria during October, she noted.

She said the regime's attacks against civilians under various pretexts continue in the Idlib De-escalation Zone, adding that over the last month, 19 civilians, including children, lost their lives and 72 were injured in attacks by the regime in the Idlib region.

Azerbaijan

Noting that the Turkish Armed Forces continues to support the Azerbaijani army's modernization and training activities, as well as mine/IED search and destruction activities in the regions liberated from Armenia occupation, Kara said: "To date, 123 square kilometers (47.5 square miles) of area has been cleared by our troops and Azerbaijani elements. Also, 899 Azerbaijani personnel were trained as part of mine and IED clearance.”

She emphasized that Turkey will continue to stand by Azerbaijan in its just cause, as it has done so far.

Libya

The Turkish army continues military training, aid, cooperation, and consultancy activities in Libya, based on the invitation of the legitimate government and bilateral agreements, the spokeswoman also said.

She noted that so far, 6,568 Libyan Armed Forces personnel have been trained in Libya and Turkey, and the training of 626 Libyan Armed Forces personnel continues, adding that in order to contribute to the peace and security of the Libyan people, 4,137 mines/IEDs and unexploded ammunition have been detected and destroyed.

“In addition, with the hospital we have put into operation in Tripoli, health support has been provided to nearly 20,000 Libyan brothers so far.”

12 exercises in October

She pointed out that the Turkish army continues its operations, exercises, and training activities uninterruptedly despite the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it also contributed to world peace in many geographies from Libya to Kosovo, from Azerbaijan to Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of NATO, UN, EU, and OSCE missions and bilateral agreements.

Kara added that in this context, a total of 12 exercises -- two national, four NATO, and six private -- were carried out in October.

Fight against FETO

On the fight against FETO, Kara said Turkey’s National Defense Ministry continues to fight decisively in light of new information, documents, and data.

A total of 24,082 personnel with links to FETO have been dismissed since the 2016 defeated coup, Kara added.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 28, a total of 3,405 personnel were dismissed from public service, the ranks of 629 retired personnel were stricken, and 159 personnel were also reinstated, she said.

FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, in Turkey, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 injured.

Ankara accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

FETO has a considerable presence outside Turkey, including private educational institutions that serve as a revenue stream for the terrorist group.

Hüseyin Demir

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