US says operations at Turkey's İncirlik base back on track
WASHINGTON / ANKARA
AFP photoMilitary operations are back on track at Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana, used by U.S. forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), after they were interrupted during the July 15 failed coup attempt, top U.S. defense officials said on July 25.
“Operations have in almost all manners returned to normal in terms of the operations we’re conducting from Turkey,” U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said at the Pentagon, where he briefed reporters alongside Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
Dunford said his Turkish counterpart, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, reached out to him twice last week and noted Turkey’s commitment to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL.
“So clearly something that happened last weekend is going to have an impact across the board inside of Turkey. But we’re going to work very closely to try to mitigate that as best we can,” Dunford said.
Carter also noted his phone call last week with his counterpart, Defense Minister Fikri Işık, and confirmed that coalition air operations “are back on track at İncirlik.”
The air space around İncirlik was closed during the July 15 failed coup attempt amid concerns a tanker aircraft commandeered from the base was being used to refuel aircraft involved in the attempted overthrow.
While the announcement signalled normalization, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said on July 26 that the U.S. State Department had authorized the voluntary departure of employees’ family members in Turkey after the July 15 coup plot.
Turkey’s declaration of a state of emergency also prompted the State Department to change the status, the embassy said in an emailed security message to American residents in Turkey.
“During this period, U.S. citizens in Turkey may see an increase in police or military activities and restrictions on movement,” it said.
Some 670 U.S. citizens were evacuated from İzmir, Muğla and Adana to Germany in early April, in accordance with an order by the Pentagon and the State Department for the families of troops and civilian personnel to leave several areas of Turkey for their security.
A total of 1,000 civilians have left İncirlik Air Base since the September 2015 recommendation to leave the country.