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Electricity supply restored at Incirlik Air Base

Airmen from the 728th Air Mobility Squadron push a pallet of meals ready to eat onto rollers, July 19, 2016, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Due to an extended loss of commercial power, food, fuel and other supplies were sent to Incirlik to sustain missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.The base was without power for a week, but it was restored on Friday, July 22, 2016.

JOSHUA T. JASPER/U.S. AIR FORCE

By SLOBODAN LEKIC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 22, 2016

Outside power was restored on Friday to Incirlik Air Base, a week after Turkish authorities cut electricity as they rounded up members of the military suspected of involvement in the failed coup attempt, including the base’s Turkish commander.

The U.S. military had been running backup generators to maintain operations at the base, a key hub in the air war against Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

U.S. European Command said in a statement that the generators will continue to be on stand-by.

Stories on Turkey's attempted military coup and its aftermath

“We will retain this capability should the power be interrupted again,” the statement said. “Meanwhile, there is a steady flow of hot food, water, and fuel to support our servicemembers and civilians in Turkey.”

Authorities cut power to the base at about 7:30 Saturday morning, just hours after authorities said the coup attempt had been thwarted.They also closed the airspace around the base for about 24 hours, halting air strikes from the base against the Islamic State group. The airspace was reopened soon after the arrest of the Turkish general in charge of the Incirlik installation. Since then, U.S. air operations against the militants in Iraq and Syria have continued from the base, located about 60 miles from the Syrian border.

The electricity cut-off sparked concerns that the air base, which is crucial to the U.S. war effort, could become a bargaining chip as Ankara seeks to pressure Washington to extradite a Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating the coup attempt who lives in exile in Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in Washington that his Turkish counterpart had assured him power would be restored to Incirlik soon.

EUCOM said the U.S. was working closely with the Turkish military.

The U.S. “will continue to work towards ensuring our facility, the U.S. servicemembers who live and work on it, and the operations occurring there remain fully prepared to take on a myriad of missions as we work together to defeat terrorism,” the EUCOM statement said.

There are about 2,500 U.S. servicemembers in Turkey, most at Incirlik. The U.S. also operates out of Diyarbakir Air Base near the Syrian border and a NATO facility in Izmir. In March, military family members in Turkey were ordered to leave the country following a series of terrorist attacks.

In addition to the warplanes carrying out missions against the Islamic State, Incirlik also has engineering, communications, logistics, and air control units. It is also widely believed to house a stock of several dozen tactical nuclear weapons.

lekic.slobodan@stripes.com

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