US seeks NATO role in air campaign against Islamic State

NATO confirmed Thursday that the United States has asked the alliance to assist in the international air campaign against the Islamic State extremist group by providing surveillance planes for the operation.

The request is under discussion by NATO partners, a spokeswoman told dpa.

NATO has so far refused to be drawn into the conflict in Syria - where a US-led coalition is targeting Islamic State strongholds - due in part to concerns by alliance members like Germany that its involvement could complicate peace negotiations.

The US request for NATO to contribute its AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) surveillance planes was made in December.

On Thursday neither the US Defence Department in Washington nor US representatives at NATO headquarters in Brussels would respond to dpa's request for comment on discussions about NATO providing the aircraft.

The AWACS - which can locate and identify planes more than 400 kilometres away - could act as flying command posts, communicating with other aircraft and helping to coordinate coalition airstrikes against Islamic State.

The US-coalition involves some 60 countries, including all 28 NATO members and regional players such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

NATO's fleet of 16 AWACS is based in Geilenkirchen, near the western German city of Aachen. The planes, which are specially adapted Boeing 707s, tend to fly with a 16-strong crew of international experts, including computer and radar specialists.

The planes are not equipped with weapons. The military personnel operating them come from 15 alliance countries, with the German army providing approximately one-third of the crew members for the AWAC fleet.

NATO decided several weeks ago to move some of its AWACS to Turkey, following a request by the government in Ankara. The alliance member said it felt threatened by the conflict in the region.

Turkey says that Russian planes deployed in Syria have entered its airspace on several occasions. In November, the Turkish air force downed a Russian military jet near its border with Syria, triggering a major diplomatic stand-off.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25

More from World

Nearly 40 killed in tanker truck explosion in Kenya

A weekend accident in Kenya that saw a tanker truck explode left 39 people dead, officials said on Sunday.


25 killed in blast at main Cairo Coptic cathedral

25 people were killed and 35 injured after an explosion near Cairo's main Coptic cathedral on Sunday, the Health...

Hong Kong begins process to elect next leader

Hong Kong residents began to cast ballots on Sunday to vote for the members of a committee that will select its...

Death toll rises in suicide bombing in Somalia

An al-Shabaab suicide car bomber struck a police complex in Mogadishu on Sunday, killing at least 30 people and...

Monitor: Russian bombing forces Islamic State out of Syria’s Palmyra

Intense Russian airstrikes on Sunday forced Islamic State fighters to withdraw from the central Syrian city of...