US starts manned air strikes from Incirlik base

US Central Command says it began using Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for manned air strikes against ISIS

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon is seen at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey

Updated Aug 13, 2015

The United States announced it started manned air strikes against ISIS targets in northern Syria using Incirlik Air Base in Turkey’s Adana province on Wednesday.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that F-16 fighter jets deployed in the base over the weekend participated in the mission.

Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement earlier this month that the US had started using Incirlik base in operations involving unmanned aircraft.

Ankara allowed Washington for the utilisation of Incirlik Air Base last month as the parties agreed on the US-led anti-ISIS international campaign in which Turkey pledged to take an increased role in the wake of militant offensive towards its southern borders.

The United States announced on Sunday that the Pentagon has deployed six F-16 jets and about 300 military personnel to Incirlik Air Base, which is located about 100 kilometers from Syrian border in Turkey’s Adana province, to be used in anti-ISIS campaign.

Turkey has itself conducted air strikes against ISIS targets at the end of July after 33 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack carried out by a militant linked to ISIS in Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province on July 20, and death of a Turkish soldier in Kilis province on Syrian border as a result of shots fired from ISIS militants on July 24.

Turkey and the US have been working on a plan to create an ISIS-free zone in northern Syria to help Syrian opposition forces to gain some ground.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu stated that Turkey and the United States had reached an agreement on the terms for the zone, including a specific 98 km by 45 km area to be controlled by the Free Syrian Army.

"The control and protection of this region cleared of ISIS will be conducted by Syrian opposition forces and the necessary air defence and support for this will be provided by the United States and Turkey,” Sinirlioglu said.

The US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner talked about the issue on Wednesday avoiding to describe the area as “a safe haven or an anti-ISIS zone.”

Toner said, however, he is not denying Sinirlioglu’s statement but continued on to say “We remain in discussion with Turkey about – and that includes evaluating options on how to – on more effective means to counter ISIL in the region.”


TRTWorld and agencies