Pro-Palestinian crowds try to storm air base housing U.S. troops in Turkey

By Dilara Senkaya and Mehmet Emin Caliskan

ADANA, Turkey (Reuters) - Turkish police used tear gas and water cannon as hundreds of people at a pro-Palestinian rally on Sunday tried to storm an air base that houses U.S. troops, hours before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due in Ankara for talks on Gaza.

Turkey, which has stepped up its criticism of Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, supports a two-state solution while hosting members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Since the Israel-Hamas war started, protests have erupted across the country.

Earlier this week, the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an Islamist Turkish aid agency, organised a convoy to travel to the Incirlik air base in the Adana province in southern Turkey to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza and U.S. support for Israel.

Incirlik, which has been used to support the international coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also houses U.S. troops. IHH's protest called for Incirlik to be closed.

Footage from the protests showed police firing tear gas and using water cannons to disperse crowds waving Turkish and Palestinian flags and chanting slogans. Protesters toppled barricades and clashed with police in riot gear.

Protesters were also seen hurling plastic chairs, rocks, and other items at police, who fired smoke bombs at crowds. Scuffles broke out between the crowds and security forces

IHH President Bulent Yildirim addressed crowds in Adana and urged them to refrain from attacking police.

"Friends, it is wrong to throw rocks or do similar things because both the police and soldiers would want to go to Gaza and fight and they will go when the time comes," he said.

"Our rage is huge. We cannot hold it in. But Turkey is doing what it can," he added. IHH ended its rally earlier than planned due to the clashes with police.

The rally comes hours before Blinken is expected to arrive in Ankara for talks on Gaza with his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan on Monday, and after repeated criticism by Ankara towards the West over support for Israel.

(Reporting by Dilara Senkaya, Murad Sezer, Mehmet Emin Caliskan, and Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Giles Elgood)