Aug. 5 (UPI) -- Turkey, a NATO member, remains a regional transit hub for Islamic State terrorists, a Defense Department Inspector General's report says.
The 136-page quarterly report on the U.S. military's mission in Iraq and Syria cites the U.S. European Command calling Turkey a "major facilitation hub" for IS personnel, funding and weaponry.
EUCOM conceded, though, that Turkey has recently improved its efforts to stop the smuggling of fighters and material across the border Turkey shares with Iraq and Syria.
The territorial control of IS has been reduced in the two countries, but attacks increased in April, coinciding with the holy month of Ramadan. The report mentioned 405 ISIS attacks in Iraq during the quarter, with spikes during Ramadan. IS also took advantage of restrictions placed on U.S. troops due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
"Since the October 2019 Turkish incursion into northeast Syria, the SDF has turned to Russia and the Syrian regime for protection against Turkish and Turkish-aligned forces," the report states.
A NATO country since 1952, Turkey has dismissed criticism of its recent actions, which include a violation of an arms embargo in Libya, claiming energy resources in the Mediterranean Sea, hostility toward Israel and the purchase of Russian-made air defense systems.