U.S. fighter jets, ships arrive in Turkey despite official rejection

Monday, March 10, 2003

ANKARA Turkey has quietly allowed the United States to conduct a military buildup despite the rejection of such a request by the nation's parliament.

Turkish government sources and media reports said the U.S. military has brought armored vehicles, tanks and fighter-jets to Turkey as part of plans for a war against Iraq.

So far, the United States has amassed a fleet of more than 100 fighter-jets in Turkey. The sources said the warplanes are in the southern Turkish base at Incerlik and include the F-15, F-16, F/A-18 and early-warning aircraft.

The sources said Turkey has allowed the first of an estimated 40 U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean to dock and unload equipment for the military.

Turkey's NTV news channel said a ship unloaded U.S. military equipment over the weekend at the port of Iskenderun. The equipment included military vehicles, bulldozers and engineering platforms. This is the first ship with U.S. military equipment to have entered a Turkish port since Feb. 24.

About a dozen trucks loaded with U.S. military equipment arrived in Incerlik on Saturday, the sources said. Turkish media reports said the trucks encountered anti-war protesters.

The sources said U.S. troops have not been allowed into Turkey in wake of parliament's rejection of a plan for the deployment of 62,000 American soldiers. They said under Turkish military pressure, parliament could reconsider the decision over the next week.

Over the weekend, 500 Turkish military trucks, loaded with tanks, artillery and ammunition, made their way to the Iraqi border. Turkish sources said the trucks will enter northern Iraq as part of the Turkish military's deployment in the area.

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