US sends F-16 jets and personnel to Incirlik Air Base

The United States sent six F-16 jets and about 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Sunday, the US military said, after Ankara agreed last month to allow American planes to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants from there.

The Pentagon said in a statement the “small detachment” is from the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base, Italy.

“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 statement said.

In the past air offensives by the US against Syria have been flown mainly from the Gulf. Access to Incirlik, for launching manned air strikes from the base could be a big advantage.

Turkey’s decision last month to allow use of the base follows long-standing reluctance by Ankara to become engaged in the fight against Islamist militants.

Turkey has faced increasing insecurity along its 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, with fears the conflict could spill onto Turkish soil and worsen relations with its Kurdish minority.


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