Russia presses for access to strategic Incirlik air base in Turkey

by WorldTribune Staff, August 22, 2016

Russia has approached Turkey to request use of the U.S.-built Incirlik air base.

Incirlik air base
Incirlik air base

The NATO base, which is home to at least 50 U.S. B-61 nuclear warheads, is 65 miles from the Syrian border and would enable the Russian air force to engage in “constant bombing” of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and other anti-Assad forces, a Russian official said, according to a report by the UK’s Times newspaper.

“It just remains to come to an agreement with (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that we get the NATO base Incirlik as [our] primary air base,” Sen. Igor Morozov, a member of the Russian upper house’s committee on international affairs, said.

“You’ll see, the next base will be Incirlik,” he told Izvestia after the Kremlin revealed last week that its bombers had started flying out of Iran to launch attacks on Syria. “This will be one more victory for Putin.”

Analysts say Turkey “has drifted towards Russia” in the wake of the failed coup on July 15. Erdogan has even suggested that the United States played a hand in the failed attempt to overthrow his government and is demanding the U.S. extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been alleged to have been the mastermind of the coup.

Another Russian senator, Viktor Ozerov, told RIA Novosti: “It’s not certain that Russia needs Incirlik, but such a decision would be seen as a real willingness on Turkey’s part to cooperate with Russia in the war against terrorism in Syria.”

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