Predators to provide intel to Turkey
Drones transferred from Iraq to Turkey will provide surveillance support in the fight against terrorism, the Pentagon said Nov. 14.
With U.S. forces set to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year, four U.S. unmanned aircraft will be shifted from an airfield in northern Iraq to the İncirlik air base in Turkey, Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters.
“There is an agreement now to fly some of those ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] assets out of İncirlik at the request of the Turkish government,” Kirby said. The drones have been flying reconnaissance missions against the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK from İncirlik for a couple of weeks, Kirby said.
“It’s my understanding they are operating out of İncirlik now,” he said. The PKK’s attacks against the Turkish forces has escalated since the summer, with Turkey launching a major operation last month in retaliation for a PKK attack that killed 24 soldiers.
The shift will help provide intelligence support to the Turkish military “to deal with the specific threat posed by the PKK there on their southern border,” Kirby said.
Turkey had acknowledged talks with the Pentagon on redeploying the unmanned aircraft to İncirlik. The mission for the drones would remain the same, with only a change in the airfield used by the planes, Kirby said. In another step designed to bolster the Turkish military in its battle with the PKK, the Pentagon announced last month plans to sell three AH-1 Super Cobra helicopters to Ankara in a deal worth $111 million.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.