WASHINGTON, (BM) – The statement on the possible closure of the Incirlik airbase in Turkey for American troops, voiced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was not brought to the attention of Pentagon chief Mark Esper learned BulgarianMilitary.com. Thus, on Tuesday, December 17, the US Secretary of Defense commented on the words of the Turkish leader.
“For the first time I learned about this from the newspapers … and so I need to talk to my defense counterpart to understand what they really had in mind and how serious they are,” Esper quoted Reuters as saying. The head of the Pentagon also noted the sovereignty of Turkey and its inalienable right to deploy or not deploy NATO bases or foreign armed forces on its territory.
On December 16, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States used Turkish military bases only with Turkey’s permission. This message came after Erdogan warned on December 15 that Ankara might close Incirlik airbase to the United States if Washington imposed sanctions on the country for acquiring Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.
Incirlik airbase has a runway over 3 thousand meters long and is capable of receiving all types of aircraft, including strategic bombers, Gazeta.ru writes. On its territory there are zones of dispersal and shelter of aircraft, warehouses, communication centers, appropriate equipment is deployed, there are headquarters, office and technical premises.
The number of personnel of the US Air Force on the base, according to various estimates, is from 3 to 5 thousand people.
The air base was used by the Americans during the 1958 Lebanon crisis, operations Desert Storm (1991) and Fox in the Desert (1998), during the wars in Afghanistan (since 2001), Iraq (since 2003) and Syria.
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