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Blinken promises Turkey long-term help following deadly earthquakes.

Following two weeks of devastating earthquakes, Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Turkey on Monday that the U.S. will back it “for as long as it takes” as Turkish officials razed damaged properties.

Turkey, including Syria, received search-and-rescue, medical, concrete-breaking, and humanitarian help from Washington.

NATO relations have been strained by Turkey’s plans to buy Russian missile defense systems in 2019, NATO’s plans to grow, and the U.S.’s support for Kurdish troops in northeast Syria, which Turkey sees as terrorists.

“The United States and Turkey do not agree on every topic but it is a collaboration that has withstood…challenges,” Blinken said during an Ankara press conference with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

After the earthquake, the State Department announced $185 million in humanitarian aid for Turkey and Syria.

Cavusoglu informed Blinken that Turkey wants the U.S. to notify Congress of a $20 billion F-16 acquisition.

Rescue operations finished Monday, two weeks after the Feb. 6 earthquakes in southern Turkey and northwest Syria killed almost 46,000 people.
AFAD sent 13,000 excavators, cranes, trucks, and other industrial vehicles to the earthquake zone.

AFAD reported 41,156 deaths in Turkey and 385,000 damaged or destroyed homes.

The UNFPA says 356,000 pregnant earthquake survivors need reproductive health care over the weekend.

There are two hundred twenty-six thousand Turks and 130,000 Syrians, of whom 38,800 will give birth next month.

In camps or cold weather, many women survive without food or water. Northwest Syria had the most deaths. Insurgents battling President Bashar al-Assad complicate aid delivery.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) claimed a convoy of 14 trucks entered northern Syria from Turkey on Sunday to help earthquake rescue operations, raising fears about access to the war-torn area.

The WFP is also pushing authorities to stop delaying food from Syrian government-controlled areas to aid hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims.

On Wednesday, hundreds of Syrian refugees in Turkey visited disaster-stricken families in northwest Syria.

As their Antakya house crumbled, the 27-year-old auto electrician and his family departed for Syria, taking up authorities’ offer to return to Turkey after six months.

“They won’t be let back,” he worried. “No nation remains. Will we lose family? Rebuilding without them will kill me.”

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