İncirlik ready for operations against ISIL: Spokesman

İncirlik ready for operations against ISIL: Spokesman

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
İncirlik ready for operations against ISIL: Spokesman

A United States Navy plane approaches to land at the Incirlik Air Base, in Adana, in the outskirts of the city of Adana, southeastern Turkey, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. AP Photo

Turkey’s strategically placed İncirlik airbase in Adana is ready any time for airstrikes by coalition forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) now that a cabinet motion has gone into effect, a Turkish official has said.  

“İncirlik airbase can be used at any moment when considered necessary,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said July 29, noting that military officials in both countries are now conducting talks on plans about upcoming operations.

Turkey and the United States have not signed any “written documents” on opening of Turkish airbases for the use of coalition forces, but the consensus was put into effect after the finalization of signatures for a cabinet motion last week, Bilgiç said.

The deployment of foreign military personal in Turkey regarding the deal to open up airbases is based on a 2014 parliamentary motion that gives authorization to the government to allow foreign troops to use Turkish territory, including military bases.

Two weeks ago, Ankara and Washington have agreed to deploy manned and unmanned aircraft belonging to coalition forces in the strategic military base as part of its aerial campaign against jihadist positions.

There has been no U.S. manned aircraft deployed at the İncirlik airbase yet, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News. The U.S. earlier deployed six predators, two of them armed, at İncirlik.

As part of the deal, Ankara also reserved the right to restrict some anti-ISIL coalition countries from using Turkish airbases, according to the official who cited bilateral strains with some countries in the region. 

There are three available military airbases in Turkey in addition to İncirlik, including others in Diyarbakır, Batman and Malatya in eastern and southeastern Turkey. 

No airstrikes from İncirlik to support Syrian Kurds 

There is no clause in the Turkish-U.S. agreement to use Turkish airbases to aid Syrian Kurdish fighters in their battle against ISIL, he said.

“Support to People’s Protection Units (YPG) is not one of the elements of the agreement,” he told reporters, stressing that the consensus is just for the struggle against ISIL.

Bilgiç’s remarks came after U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby’s statement that the U.S.’ access to bases in Turkey will “allow air support to the YPG to be more timely and effective.” 

The YPG is the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which controls the cantons of Rojava.
Kirby’s statement “does not implicitly reflect” the consensus with the U.S., Bilgiç said.

Turkey to attend anti-ISIL coalition meeting in Canada

Meanwhile, a visit to Turkey by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 31 has been postponed due to private matters of the U.S. official. 

Turkish officials will also attend a meeting of a small group in the anti-ISIL coalition on July 30 in Canada.

Meanwhile, Turkey does not plan to ask for further military support from NATO for the protection of its borders, the spokesperson also said.

Turkey informed NATO allies on July 28 about its cross-border operations against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Iraq and ISIL targets in Syria, but Ankara does not have any further expectation from the alliance for now, Bilgiç said.