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Friday, June 10, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

U.S. presses 'full NATO member' Turkey to join air attacks on Libya

WASHINGTON — The United States is urging Turkey to join NATO attacks missions on Libya.


Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has sent messages that urged Turkey to join combat air missions against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. They said the messages have come from the Defense Department and State Department as part of a U.S.-led drive to intensify military pressure on Gadhafi.

"Turkey is a full member of NATO and must assume such obligations," an official said. "It wants to be a leader in the Middle East, and this is a test of leadership."

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On June 8, NATO and Arab League representatives met in the United Arab Emirates to discuss the future of the war against Gadhafi. Officials said the representatives agreed that the NATO mission, begun in March and joined by at least two Arab states, could not continue indefinitely and must end with Gadhafi's ouster.

Officials said Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been pressing Turkey to join air combat operations over Libya. So far, the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has kept Turkey in a support role, including allowing NATO to plan operations from its base in Izmir.

"Turkey could begin air operations under the NATO umbrella almost immediately," another official said. "It has the assets and means of coordination."

At the same time, NATO has intensified bombing of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the command and control headquarters of the Gadhafi regime. Officials said NATO was employing a mix of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft to destroy regime facilities.

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