Anti-ISIL coalition preparations at İncirlik bolstered by new aircraft, personnel
REUTERS photoThe military build-up at Turkey’s İncirlik airbase, where a U.S.-led coalition is set to boost its operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is growing daily with the arrival of more jets, cargo planes and personnel.
Two cargo planes arrived at İncirlik on Aug. 10, Anadolu Agency reported.
The U.S. European Command said in a statement that the U.S. Air Force deployed a “small detachment” of six F-16 jets, support equipment and about 300 personnel to the base.
The detachment is part of the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base in Italy, it said.
Official sources told Anadolu that the contingent included a C-5 transport plane plus a KC-135 refueling aircraft. A sum of 300 personnel that accompanied the eight aircraft arrived on Aug. 9, Anadolu reported.
Turkey carried out limited airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria last month following a suicide bombing that killed 32 people and an ISIL suicide bomber and agreed to allow the U.S. to use the strategically located base. U.S. officials have welcomed Turkey’s ostensible decision to undertake a more active role in the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group.
Last week, U.S. armed drones taking off from İncirlik struck ISIL positions, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu said an “extensive” fight against the extremists would soon begin.
“The United States and Turkey, as members of the 60-plus nation coalition, are committed to the fight against ISIL in the pursuit of peace and stability in the region,” the U.S. military said.
İncirlik is located close to ISIL strongholds across the border in Syria, allowing the U.S. to move more swiftly and nimbly against ISIL targets.
Its use would enable the U.S.-led coalition to conduct better surveillance over Syria and act more quickly on intelligence than when it was limited to launching flights from places like Iraq, Jordan and the Gulf states.