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US military boosts security to 'highest level' at bases in Turkey

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This August 9, 2015 US Air Force handout photo shows F-16 Fighting Falcons as they arrive at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. (Via AFP)

The US military increased security at bases it uses across Turkey to the highest level during a coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

US force protection was elevated to level “Delta” on Friday night, which is used when there is a terrorist attack, a Pentagon official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity.

The official, however, said the US military has not received any request from the State Department to reinforce its diplomatic facilities in Turkey, including the embassy in Ankara and consulates in Istanbul and Adana.

Late on Friday night, a faction of the armed forces used tanks and attack helicopters in an ill-fated attempt to seize power from President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Erdogan and Yildirim, however, appeared on television soon after the coup was launched, declaring an early end to the attempt. At least 160 people were killed in the violence, including many civilians.

The coup attempt raised questions about whether it would have an impact on the ongoing US military campaign in Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon has increasingly relied on Turkish military bases as launch points for operations against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions.

In particular, the joint US-Turkish Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, which houses about 1,500 American troops and personnel, plays a direct role in the military offensive.

“As of this time, there has been no impact to Incirlik Air Base and counter-ISIL air operations from Incirlik continue,” a senior defense official said in a statement.

Turkey has long been the key point of transit for Daesh militants moving in and out of Syria. It is also accused of helping militant groups fighting the Syrian government.

 


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