U.S. promises Turkey ammunition for Syria's Idlib battle

The United States weighed in Tuesday (March 3) on a deepening standoff between Turkey and Russia in northwestern Syria.

Saying it was ready to give Turkey the ammunition and military equipment it needs in the fight for Idlib, the last swathe of rebel-held territory.

Russia, which supports Bashar al-Assad's forces, and Turkey, which supports the rebels, both say they hope to avoid a direct clash.

But one looks ever more likely, days before Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan meet to hammer out a deal to halt the fighting.

Both sides appear to be trying to consolidate their military position and strengthen their negotiating hand.

U.S. special representative to the region James Jeffrey -- visiting the no-man's land between Turkey and Syria -- said Washington would ensure U.S.-made equipment is on hand for Ankara:


"Turkey has asked for help from NATO, they have asked for help from us. First of all humanitarian help that Ambassador Craft talked about. Secondly as NATO allies, we share information. Turkey is a major purchaser of American weapon systems. As the President (Donald Trump) said recently we will provide supplies and other things to Turkey. We are also looking at other requests that Turkey has made either to us or to NATO as this conflict goes on."

One of the requests Washington is examining is for air defense.

Ankara has requested the use of U.S. Patriot surface-to-air defenses, even though it enraged the United States last year by opting to buy a Russian alternative.

Turkey shot down a Syrian government warplane on Tuesday -- the third since Sunday (March 1).

While Russian military police are helping Syrian troops hold on to the strategic crossroads town of Saraqeb, which controls access to Idlib city and Aleppo.

The intensified fighting has displace nearly a million people in the last few months.