Tuesday, January 13, 2004

US using Incirlik

The US military has been using Incirlik air base in Turkey for the purpose of rotating troops in and out of Iraq:

The United States has begun using a key air base in southern Turkey for rotating troops in and out of Iraq under a four-month deal with Ankara, Turkish officials said Monday.

"The Incirlik air base has been in use since Jan. 7" as part of Washington's plans to replace several thousands troops in Iraq, a source close to the government told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Use of the base was in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1483, which lifted sanctions against Iraq and called on countries to open air and sea ports for logistical and humanitarian missions, he said.

The deal was agreed between the Turkish army and the Pentagon within the framework of a June 2003 Turkish government decree, which paved the way for US and coalition allies to use Turkish air bases and sea ports for logistical purposes under Resolution 1483.

The deal appeared to underscore improving ties between the two NATO allies, which hit an all-time low last year when Turkey rejected a US request to use Turkish territory for an invasion of Iraq from the north.

"These operations... are expected to continue for four months," the source said, adding that the timeframe was in line with US demands.

He also said that the troops that would be flown to Incirlik would only transit via the base, and not stay there.


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