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Air Force staging aircraft, personnel at Turkish base in Diyarbakir

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Aug. 12, 2015. The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday, Sept. 29, that a small detachment of aircraft and personnel were being staged at a base in Diyarbakir.

KRYSTAL ARDREY/U.S. AIR FORCE

By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 29, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Air Force has begun deploying aircraft and personnel to a southeastern Turkey airbase at Diyarbakir, Gen. Philip Breedlove, the commander of U.S. European Command, said Tuesday.

“As guests of the Turkish government, they will enable us to better recover our coalition partners should they need assistance in Syria or Iraq,” he said, speaking at a conference on U.S.-Turkish relations in Washington.

Breedlove did not answer questions from reporters.

The United States recently began flying manned and unmanned airstrikes from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. In addition, U.S. officials have been negotiating to provide U.S. and coalition aircraft additional bases in Turkey to launch strikes against Islamic State targets.

On Tuesday, Breedlove said U.S. forces will increase and “the coalition intends to increase the operational footprint at Incirlik to step up the fight against [the Islamic State] in the coming months.”

Defense Department spokesperson Laura Seal confirmed the move.

The Air Force “has begun staging small detachments of aircraft and airmen at Diyarbakir,” she said. “This is to enhance existing coalition capabilities to support personnel recovery operations in Syria and Iraq.”

There are no plans for a permanent U.S. presence at this location, Seal said.

copp.tara@stripes.com
Twitter: @TaraCopp

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