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Ankara retains the option of shutting down the İncirlik air base used by the United States in retaliation to threats of U.S. sanctions and a U.S. Senate resolution that recognising the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday.
In addition to the air base in Turkey’s southern province of Adana, Ankara could also close down the Kürecik Radar Station in eastern Malatya province if deemed necessary, Erdoğan told A Haber TV.
“The U.S. Senate’s decision on the so-called Armenian genocide is null and void for Turkey. In case of sanctions, we can take steps to close Incirlik and Kürecik. If the United States continues to act like this, we have steps to take as well,” Erdoğan said.
The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognising as genocide the mass killings of Armenians a century ago, a move that has further heightened tensions between Ankara and Washington.
Turkey denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide.
Ankara condemned the measure, saying it will not help improve relations with Washington.
The decision followed a move by a U.S. Senate committee to back legislation on Wednesday imposing sanctions on Turkey over its military offensive in northeast Syria targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces.
“We are strategic partners. Do such moves suit a strategic partnership?’’ Erdoğan asked, referring to the United States.
If Washington continues to act in such a fashion, “then there are answers that we will give,’’ the Turkish president said.
The İncirlik Air Base, located about 100 miles from Turkey’s border with Syria, is often referred to as one of the major strategically located U.S. military bases.
The Kürecik radar station hosts NATO’s early-warning radar systems against ballistic missile attacks.