World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. will deploy a dozen F-15 fighters jets to the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey as a part of Washington's adjustments to an anti-ISIL campaign, a senior defense official said Friday.
“We want a greater density of planes sorties, greater density of intelligence assets on developing targets. [The] White House announced A-10s, which are already on the ground in Incirlik to help the counter-ISIL campaign and then F-15s are forthcoming to Incirlik to help anti-ISIL campaign," she said.
The Pentagon announced earlier this month that 12 A-10 warthog aircraft were deployed to Incirlik while F-16s already positioned there were relocated to Italy.
The decision to send more planes to Turkey came on the same day the White House said dozens of the Special Operation forces would be deployed to Syria to help and advise Syrian opposition groups.
The positioning of assets in Incirlik and the deployment of troops to Syria were part of several options defense leaders presented to President Barack Obama in July.
She said Obama asked the military leaders for a wide range of options to be potentially employed against the militant group.
Besides building the military capabilities of Arab allies such as Jordan and Lebanon, the official said the U.S. is also working with other Arab allies to add resources to the American military build-up in Incirlik.
“We are talking to a number of coalition allies, particularly Arab allies, about potentially locating some of their assets in Incirlik," she said." At this point I don’t want to get ahead of any of those nations and make announcement about their commitments.”
There appears to be another dynamic to reinforcing Incirlik that is related Russian intervention in Syria last month.
The commander of US and NATO forces said Turkey is one of the alliance’s oldest allies but the complex situation surrounding it has caused the group to view the beef up at Incirlik from two angles.
“One venue – to provide some increased support to OIR, [Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIL]. Secondarily, to show in the NATO sense, support to our Turkish ally as we help them to address their concerns about their airspace," said Gen. Philip Breedlove.
He said the U.S. might contribute to efforts to protect Turkish airspace.
Russian aircraft recently violated Turkey’s airspace that drew reaction from NATO. The NATO leaders pledged support for the protection of the alliance's southern flank.
Noting Turkey's concerns about its airspace Breedlove said that NATO and U.S. are looking at some options, which he did not detail.