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    Politics: Turkey shoots down Russian plane over Syria

    Rescued Su-24 Co-Pilot Rules Out Turkish Space Violation 'Even for Second'


    17:23 25.11.2015(updated 21:29 25.11.2015)


    Rescued co-pilot from the downed Russian Su-24 jet said there were no visual or radio warnings issued by Turkey.


    "There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever. That's why we were keeping our combat course as usual. You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing. And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn't even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers."



    Rescued co-pilot Captain Konstantin Murahtin said there was no violation of the Turkish airspace.


    © AFP 2015/ SERGEY VENYAVSKY
    Top Gun: Co-Pilot Rescued in Syria is One of Russia's Finest


    He also said the crew of the downed Russian bomber jet knew the area of the operation "like the back of their hands."
    "Of course, having carried out numerous flights there we knew the region like the backs of our hands. We were conducting our sorties and returning back to base following the predetermined route. I’m a navigator, I know every altitude there. I can guide the aircraft there blindfolded," co-pilot said.


    The co-pilot added that he wants to continue serving in the Russian aviation group in Syria.


    "I can't wait until I get the all-clear from the medics, so that I can step back into the ranks. I'm going to ask our command to keep me on this base — I have a debt to repay, for my commander."


    © SPUTNIK/ ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI
    Putin Signs Decree to Award 3 Heroes of Syrian Operation, 2 Posthumously


    On Tuesday, a Russian Su-24 bomber jet crashed in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the plane was downed by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet over Syrian territory, falling 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Turkish border.
    The crew of the plane ejected and one pilot was killed by fire from the ground, according to the Russian General Staff. The co-pilot survived.


    A pilot killed by fire from the ground after ejecting from a Russian Su-24 jet downed by Turkey in Syria was posthumously awarded with a Gold Star medal, Russia’s highest honorary title.



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    Turkey Arrests Generals for Stopping Syria-Bound Trucks 'Filled With Arms'




    16:42 29.11.2015

    Two Turkish generals and a colonel were detained on Saturday for intercepting Syria-bound trucks that belonged to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.



    In January 2014, Ankara Gendarmerie Major-General Ibrahim Aydin, former Adana Gendarmerie Brigadier-General Hamza Celepoglu and former Gendarmerie Criminal Laboratory Head Colonel Burhanettin Cihangiroglu stopped Syrian-bound trucks in southern Turkey after they received information from an anonymous source that the trucks were illegally carrying weapons to militants in Syria.


    When the information about the trucks became public, MIT officials and high-ranking Turkish politicians, including President Recep Teyyip Erdogan, who was Prime Minister back then, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, then the country's foreign minister, were furious that the gendarmes stopped the trucks and said the Syria-bound trucks were carrying "humanitarian aid" to Turkmen living just south of Turkey, the newspaper said.


    "Yes, I'm saying this without any hesitation. That aid was going to the Turkmens. There will be a war next door and we will watch our Turkmen, Arab and Turkish brothers being massacred," Davutoglu said, as cited by Today's Zaman.

    © AP PHOTO/ VEDAT ARIK, CUMHURIYET
    Turkish Reporters Jailed Over Claims Ankara Sent Arms to Rebels in Syria


    However, members of opposition parties and some Turkish media said the trucks were indeed transporting weapons to Islamic extremists in Syria.
    The gendarmes involved in the interception confirmed that the Syria-bound trucks weren't going to an area where the Turkmen lived, but to an area populated by radical groups, the Turkish newspaper said.


    When an investigation into the MIT case was launched, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) called the probe as "treason and espionage" on the part of prosecutors.



    New Twist in the Story

    New developments on the issue took place recently. Last Tuesday, Erdogan answered claims previously made by critics, who said the trucks were filled with weapons, by sarcastically asking them: "What if the MIT trucks were filled with weapons?"


    Then on Saturday, contrary to his earlier claims that the MIT trucks were carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmen, Erdogan said the trucks were actually heading on their way to help the Free Syrian Army (FSA).


    "They [the gendarmes who revealed the transfer] also exposed those going to the FSA in that way," Erdogan said on Saturday while addressing his supporters in Balikesir, as cited by Today's Zaman.

    © SPUTNIK/ DMITRIY VINOGRADOV
    Russia Outperforms US-Led Coalition by 100 Times in Anti-Terror Fight - Syrian FM


    Well, that's getting pretty confusing — were the trucks delivering "humanitarian aid" to the Turkmen or the FSA then? Just make up your mind, Mr. Erdogan. Where the trucks were heading and what were they carrying after all?

    Meanwhile, some very high-ranking Turkish officials, including then-president Abdullah Gul, revealed that the Syria-bound trucks were a "state-secret," leading to more speculations that the trucks were indeed filled with weapons.


    The recent developments are taking place in the wake of a major government crackdown on two Turkish journalists of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Can Dunbar and Erdem Gul, who we arrested for covering a story and releasing pictures, claiming that Turkish trucks provided weapons to Syrian opposition rebels.

    The reason why the Turkish government arrested the journalists is because Erdogan and his ruling party don't want reporters to write about certain things, such as the government's support of Syrian rebels, corruption and other important things that people should actually know about, human rights activist Arzu Geybulla said.


    Following the arrest of the journalists, who covered Erdogan's "tender" topic, it looks like the Turkish President is trying to eliminate everyone who's willing to speak up or reveal the fact that the Turkish government was helping out Islamic extremists in Syria.


    All of this comes amid the political scandal involving the downing of the Russian Su-24 by a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet on Tuesday.


    After the incident Russia said Turkey was one of the countries which cover the actions of Islamic terrorists in Syria.
    py

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    Erdogan's Twisted Logic: S-400 Must Not Shoot Down Turkish Jets Over Syria






    10:10 27.11.2015

    In what is a prime example of twisted logic, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia against using its ultra-modern S-400 air defense system to shoot down Turkish fighter jets if they violate Syrian airspace just days after Ankara brought down a Russian Su-24 bomber.



    Downing a Turkish warplane over Syrian territory would qualify as aggression, Erdogan told CNN in response to a question on what would happen if a Turkish fighter jet were to stray into Syrian territory.


    "This kind of an incident which may happen of course will further push us to take measures. … Of course it will be an aggression against our rights of sovereignty and it is a natural right of [Turkey] to protect those rights," Erdogan said.

    © AP PHOTO/ PETROS KARADJIAS
    'Erdogan Family's Trace in Su-24 Downing': Revenge for Ruining Shady Oil Deals?


    On Tuesday, a Turkish F-16 shot down the Su-24, claiming that the aircraft violated its airspace. Russian officials and the Su-24 pilot, who survived the crash, insist that the plane did not cross into Turkey. The crew, according to the pilot, did not receive any warning prior to the attack.
    The Su-24 was involved in Russia's counterterrorism efforts in Syria aimed at assisting Damascus in its fight against ISIL and other extremist groups trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.


    Erdogan refused to apologize for the incident, which Russian President Vladimir Putin referred to as a "stab in the back" committed by "accomplices of terrorists."

    #SYRIA S-400 AA missile system delivered, deployed and put on air defence combat duty at #Hmeymim airbase pic.twitter.com/JXZ3hky5Wm
    — Минобороны России (@mod_russia) 26 ноября 2015

    ​In the wake of the Su-24 crash, Russian defense officials decided to send the S-400 system to prevent similar incidents from happening.


    © SPUTNIK
    The S-400 Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS)

    py

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    30.11.2015

    TURKEY TO CONCENTRATE 1000 UNITS OF MILITARY EQUIPMENT AT THE BORDER


    Turkey has moved about 1000 units of military equipment including battle tanks Leopard 2A4 and artillery systems to the border with Syria.




    According to the reports, about quater of the Turkey’s 1st Army is already located at the Syrian border. The Russian Air Force’s base in Latakia could be a target of the possible attack.


    On the other hand, relocation of troops is reported is authorized by the United States urging Turkey to deploy thousands of additional military personal along its border with Syria “to block the movement of ISIS terrorists”.

    “The game has changed. Enough is enough. The border needs to be sealed,” a senior US official said of Washington’s demand to Ankara. “This is an international threat, and it’s all coming out of Syria and it’s coming through Turkish territory.”


    US President Barack Obama recently ordered the deployment of dozens of Special Operations troops to Syria to “assist” militants operating on the ground.


    Earlier, Moscow deployed S-400 air defence systems at the Hmeymim air base where the Russian warplanes are located. Also, the cruiser Moskva armed with the Fort SAM system which is the naval version of the S-300, took up a position off the Latakia’s coast.


    In turn, Turkey sent to the border with Syria electronic warfare system KORAL (Radar Electronic Attack System) to counter the Russian air defences in the region.


    The question remains what the real intention of Ankara is.


    Is Turkey ready to block border or to support ISIS militants overtly or to invade Syria and occupy a part of Syrian territory.

    py

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    Erdogan says ready to resign if claims about Turkey's buying oil from IS are confirmed

    World
    November 30, 22:12 UTC+3

    Vladimir Putin earlier noted that Russia has grounds to suspect that the Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces was downed to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey



    © Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian president's press service

    READ ALSO
    © Mikhail Metzel/TASSPutin: Russia has grounds to suspect Russian plane was downed to secure oil deliveries



    ANKARA, November 30. /TASS/. Accusations of purchasing oil from the Islamic State terrorist grouping made against Turkey are immoral, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Monday.


    Turkey is not so dishonest that it could buy oil from terrorists, Erdogan said, adding that if testimonies to such purchases are found he will quit the presidential office.


    "If evidence of this kind is found, let those who find it present it," Erdogan said.


    Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier noted that Russia has grounds to suspect that the Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces was downed to secure illegal oil deliveries from Syria to Turkey.


    Answering a question on whether Moscow wants to form a broad anti-terrorist coalition, Putin said: "We always supported this." "However, this cannot be done while someone continues to use several terrorist organizations to reach their immediate goals," he added.
    The Russian president stressed that financial support to terrorists in Syria continues. "We have recently received additional reports that confirm that that oil from ISIL-controlled (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - former name of the Islamic State terrorist organization) territories is delivered to the territory of Turkey on an industrial scale," Putin noted.


    READ ALSO
    © AP Photo/Emrah GurelRussia ready to coordinate steps to block Turkish-Syrian border — FM



    "We have all grounds to suspect that the decision to down our plane was motivated by the intention to secure these routes of delivering oil to ports where it is loaded on tankers," he said.
    "Defending Turkmen is just a pretext," Putin noted.


    Syria FM says US should study rumors Erdogan’s son is involved in oil trade with IS

    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem last week suggested that US Secretary of State John Kerry should check out reports on the involvement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son in illegal oil trade with the Islamic State.


    "I’d like to mention rumors that Erdogan’s son could be involved in illegal oil trade with the IS, although there are no proofs. If I was in Kerry’s place, I’d make an attempt to shed light on these reports," Muallem said commenting on Kerry’s statements that Damascus was buying oil from terrorists.


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also touched upon the topic.


    According to the Russian minister, the United States could not have been unaware of the scale of the Islamic States’ oil industry but preferred to spare it.


    READ ALSO
    © EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLUSyria FM says US should study rumors Erdogan’s son is involved in oil trade with IS



    "Everything is a matter of practice. Let us operate with facts. There have been many reports that god knows who is living off the oil wells illegally seized by the Islamic State," Lavrov said.


    "When our aviation started flying in the Syrian airspace at the request of (Syrian president) Bashar al-Assad, we saw the whole picture of that illegal business from above. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about that on several occasions, including yesterday’s news conference and the G20 summit in Antalya where he had shown space and aerial images - very eloquent and very convincing - to his colleagues," the Russian foreign minister went on to say.


    "The US-led coalition started flying over Iraq and Syria, without the Syrian government’s consent by the way, more than a year before the Russian military operation. I am convinced that they saw all that but did not do anything for some unknown reason. Russian warplanes started bombing that criminal industry when they began operation in that area," Lavrov said.
    OPINION

    Alexandrova
    Lyudmila

    [COLOR=#444444 !important]S-400 antiaircraft missile system to defend Russia’s air group in Syria




    "Of course, it’s certainly not a coincidence that our Turkish neighbours grew more and more nervous after that," the Russian foreign minister said.

    According to Lavrov, the arrest of two Russian journalists for a story about illegal arms supplies from the Turkish territory to the Islamic State speaks of how carefully they (Turkey) protect information about their underground oil deals.


    "So my answer is very simple: if the United States is so much concerned with the fact that god knows who is benefiting from the illegal oil business, the illegal oil field should stop functioning.


    Lavrov believes that the US-led coalition ought to have started destroying that business straight from start.


    "The US coalition and the Americans themselves started doing that after Russia had actively intervened with air strikes. I would say that then the US partners were forced to do that, so to speak, in order not to lag behind us in the struggle against terrorist infrastructure," Lavrov said.

    [/COLOR]
    py

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    December 3, 2015





    BY MICHAEL SNYDER, END OF THE AMERICAN DREAM


    How is Barack Obama going to get out of this one? On Tuesday, the Russian military produced an impressive array of evidence that clearly shows that ISIS oil is being smuggled into Turkey on an industrial scale. The evidence included photographs taken by satellite and during aerial reconnaissance missions. What the Russians have shown the world is extremely compelling, and it raises some very disturbing questions. First of all, how involved is the Turkish government in all of this? There is no way in the world that an endless parade of trucks carrying ISIS oil could have marched through Turkish border checkpoints without the cooperation of the central government. Secondly, what did Obama know and when did he know it? The U.S. military has far better surveillance capabilities than the Russians do, and so it seems absolutely absurd to suggest that Obama didn’t know what was going on.



    This new Russian evidence was presented to the world by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, and he says that “thousands of oil trucks” have been going back and forth over the Turkish border…

    According to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, Russia is aware of three main oil smuggling routes to Turkey.


    “Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” Antonov said, adding that this oil “in large quantities” enters the territory of Turkey via live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.

    But Antonov didn’t stop there. He went on to publicly accuse President Erdogan of Turkey and his family of running the entire operation

    “Turkey is the main consumer of the oil stolen from its rightful owners, Syria and Iraq. According to information we’ve received, the senior political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – are involved in this criminal business,” said Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.

    “Maybe I’m being too blunt, but one can only entrust control over this thieving business to one’s closest associates.”


    In the West, no one has asked questions about the fact that the Turkish president’s son heads one of the biggest energy companies, or that his son-in-law has been appointed energy minister. What a marvelous family business!

    “The cynicism of the Turkish leadership knows no limits. Look what they’re doing. They went into someone else’s country, they are robbing it without compunction,” Antonov said.

    And he is right.


    The Erdogan family is knee deep in this scandal, and Barack Obama has known about it the entire time. For much more on the involvement of the Erdogan family in the smuggling of ISIS oil, please see my previous article entitled “The Biggest Obama Scandal? He Knows That Turkey Is Buying Oil From ISIS And He Is Doing Nothing To Stop It“.

    During his presentation, Antonov gave us a lot of specifics. He even claimed that the Russians know precisely where much of this stolen oil ends up. The following comes from an Infowars report

    “The western route goes to Turkish ports on the Mediterranean coast, the north—to the refinery Batman in Turkey and the east—to the largest transshipment base in the village of Cizre,” the Russian Ministery of Defense web page states.


    Oil from fields near the Syrian city of Raqqa—said to be the capital city of the Islamic State—is transported at night through the border town of Azaz, Syria and Reyhanli, Turkey to the port of Iskenderun and Dörtyol where the stolen oil is loaded on tankers.


    The Russians claim the convoys are under the control of al-Nusra, the terror group funded by the Gulf Emirates and that cooperates with the Islamic State and supposed moderates in the Free Syrian Army.

    Posted below is one of the charts that Antonov used during his presentation. As you can see, the Russians are not just making “vague accusations”…






    If you would like to watch the video of Antonov’s entire presentation, you can do so right here. What Antonov is saying in the video has been translated into English, so you will be able to understand it.


    To me, one of the most striking things about the presentation was when Antonov accused the Turks of supplying fighters, ammunition and vehicles to ISIS and Al-Nusra. The following comes from an RT article

    Up to 2,000 fighters, 120 tons of ammunition and 250 vehicles have been delivered to Islamic State and Al-Nusra militants from Turkish territory, chief of National Centre for State Defense Control Lt.Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said.

    According to reliable intelligence reports, the Turkish side has been taking such actions for a long time and on a regular basis. And most importantly, it is not planning to stop them.”

    If any of these allegations are true, Turkey should be immediately kicked out of NATO.

    And if Barack Obama knew about any of this and refused to stop it, he should be facing impeachment proceedings.


    For the moment, the official position of the U.S. government is that nothing that the Russians are saying is true

    Following Russian accusations, the US has again defended Turkey, denying any ties between Ankara and Islamic State.


    We flatly reject any notion that the Turks are somehow working with ISIL. Preposterous. And really very, kind of ridiculous,” Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said.

    Really?


    As an American, I am utterly embarrassed that our “leaders” would continue to try to deny what Turkey is doing after everything that has come out.


    By flat out lying to the world, we are losing any credibility that we had left.


    Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stolen oil has been smuggled into Turkey, and our government still has the audacity to try to tell us not to look behind the curtain?


    No wonder why most people over in Iraq are convinced that the U.S. is actually on the same side as ISIS. They don’t trust anything that we have to say anymore. The following comes from the Washington Post

    Ordinary people also have seen the videos, heard the stories and reached the same conclusion — one that might seem absurd to Americans but is widely believed among Iraqis — that the United States is supporting the Islamic State for a variety of pernicious reasons that have to do with asserting U.S. control over Iraq, the wider Middle East and, perhaps, its oil.


    “It is not in doubt,” said Mustafa Saadi, who says his friend saw U.S. helicopters delivering bottled water to Islamic State positions. He is a commander in one of the Shiite militias that last month helped push the militants out of the oil refinery near Baiji in northern Iraq alongside the Iraqi army.


    The Islamic State is “almost finished,” he said. “They are weak. If only America would stop supporting them, we could defeat them in days.”
    If we are going to continue to lie about the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stolen oil that has been smuggled into Turkey, why should anyone believe anything else that we have to say?


    The Obama administration and the Turkish government have been caught in a massive, massive lie.


    In the end, this is the kind of scandal that could potentially bring down the Obama administration, leaders in Congress, and many among the top brass in the U.S. military.

    So what do you think about this emerging scandal?


    Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
    Last edited by pywong; 5th December 2015 at 09:09 PM.
    py

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    US calls on Turkey to withdraw ‘unauthorized’ troops from Iraq

    Published time: 17 Dec, 2015 01:43Edited time: 17 Dec, 2015 01:44

    © Yilmaz Kazandioglu / Reuters





    The US has urged Turkey to withdraw its “unauthorized” military forces from northern Iraq, calling on Ankara to respect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.


    US Vice President Joe Biden has spoken to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi regarding Turkey’s troop deployments.


    “The Vice President reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on Turkey to do the same by withdrawing any military forces from Iraqi territory that have not been authorized by the Iraqi government,” the White House said in a statement.


    The call between Biden and al-Abadi came two days after the Vice President’s talk with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.


    READ MORE: Turkish troops injured, 7 Kurds killed in ISIS rocket attack on base in northern Iraq


    Stressing Washington’s commitment to close cooperation with both Iraq and Turkey in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Biden urged Ankara to continue its dialogue with Baghdad.


    “The Vice President reiterated that any foreign military presence in Iraq must be with the full consent of the Iraq government,” read a statement from the White House on December 14.


    Relations between Ankara and Baghdad began to unravel following Turkey’s December 4 deployment of about 150 soldiers backed by artillery and around 25 tanks to Camp Bashiqa, a base near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that is controlled by IS. The move was protested by both the Iraqi government and thousands of its citizens across the country.


    Thousands of Iraqis protest against #Turkey’s troop deployment in northhttps://t.co/j8xmjUqcA9pic.twitter.com/eGw4VTP7nF
    — RT (@RT_com) December 13, 2015

    At first, Ankara claimed that it had sent its military forces to northern Iraq because of a threat presented by IS to Turkish military instructors training anti-terrorist forces in the area.


    Turkey also insisted that the move had been conducted at the invitation of the Iraqi government and fully complied with previous agreements between Ankara and Baghdad.


    However, the deployment was considered “an incursion” by Iraq, which accused Turkey of breaching its sovereignty.


    ‘Incursion’: Baghdad demands Turkey withdraw ‘training’ troops from northern Iraqhttps://t.co/3LrcuopB0xpic.twitter.com/ApcgxS1AEH
    — RT (@RT_com) December 5, 2015

    Demanding that Ankara withdraw its troops within 48 hours, the Iraqi government urged NATO to get involved, saying that it was the alliance’s responsibility to “use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately.”


    Despite Turkey’s president saying that a withdrawal was “out of the question” on December 10, the Turkish military started pulling out some of its troops on December 14.


    ‘Out of question’: #Erdogan rules out Turkish troop withdrawal from Iraqhttps://t.co/EKF09hAjpMpic.twitter.com/NT9Hia3wOn
    — RT (@RT_com) December 11, 2015

    Washington welcomed the withdrawal as “an important step to de-escalate recent tensions.”


    The US State Department had said earlier that the conflict was a just a“dispute between Turkey and Iraq” over “a small number of troops.”


    Russia slammed Turkey’s troop positioning just days into the conflict, calling such “presence unacceptable.”


    “An additional and extremely dangerous factor promoting international tensions is the unlawful presence of the Turkish armed forces on Iraqi territory near the city of Mosul, which arrived there without a request and approval of the legitimate government of Iraq,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.


    Speaking to Italian media last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov questioned Ankara’s real goals.


    “We need to examine how a member of the US-led coalition – the Republic of Turkey – performs goals set by the coalition,” Lavrov said. “Why is it not bombing terrorists as such, but the Kurds instead?”


    Arab League condemns Turkish ‘intervention’ in N. Iraqhttps://t.co/msuBMbMYw3pic.twitter.com/SmKyxtrZ9o
    — RT (@RT_com) December 6, 2015

    On Wednesday, Islamic State militants launched an attack on Camp Bashiqa, killing seven Kurds and injuring some Turkish troops. According to a report on a Kurdish news website, the Slemani Times, over 70 Turkish soldiers went missing after the attack. However, the information was not immediately confirmed.
    py

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    U.S. pulls F-15 fighter jets from Turkey

    By Aaron Mehta and Jeff Schogol, Staff writers2:44 p.m. EST December 16, 2015

    The U.S. is withdrawing a dozen F-15 fighters from the key Turkish air base of Incirlik, less than two months after their arrival.


    The fighters — six F-15Cs from the 48th Fighter Wing and six F-15Es from the 48th Fighter Wing — will be returning to Europe. The U.S. will still maintain a dozen A-10 Warthog close-air support fighters at the base, located about 100 miles from the border with Syria.


    The six F-15Cs from the 48th Fighter Wing arrived at Incirlik on Nov. 6 to help protect Turkish airspace.


    “The F-15C deployment to Incirlik Air Base was always intended to be of short duration and serve not only as an immediate response to a request from the Turkish government, but as an exercise of our ability to deploy aircraft on short notice to Turkey,” said Capt. Thomas Barger, a spokesman for U.S. Air Forces in Europe. “Turkey is fully capable of patrolling and protecting its own airspace.”


    The F-15E mission was also a temporary use of U.S. European-based forces to augment the counter-ISIL [Islamic State] mission from Incirlik Air Base, Barger said in an email.


    Barger declined to say whether the 12 F-15s might be replaced by other aircraft.


    “However, one of the advantages of having European-based forces is that they provide our nation with a quick response option when needed, as this temporary deployment clearly proved,” he said.


    When the F-15s’ arrival was first announced, Pentagon officials emphasized having the capability located so close to Syria was vital for the fight against the Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL. However, on Wednesday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis downplayed the removal of the fighters, noting that capability would still be in Europe and able to flow down if necessary.






    He also noted that increased presence from European allies, including British and French jets that have begun striking in Syria, means the Pentagon does not expect a capability gap. However, Davis would not rule out another wave of American jets coming through the Turkish base.


    "It's still absolutely an option," Davis said of another rotation to replace the F-15s.


    Davis also said this move was planned before Monday's visit to the Pentagon by President Obama.


    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter answers questions from coalition troops on Dec. 15 at Incirlik Air Base,Turkey. (Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen/DoD)



    The F-15 deployment was required by the government of Turkey to "demonstrate our ability to quickly deploy there assets into Turkey to conduct combat air patrol missions to help defend Turkish air sovereignty," Davis said. "They've done that and they still maintain the capability to very quickly go back if they need to."


    The move was announced the day after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited the base, but Davis said the timing was coincidental. Carter did not have a high-level sitdown with Turkish officials during his visit, part of a wider tour of the region as the US seeks to bolster local input on the anti-ISIS campaign.


    While the Pentagon has said the F-15Cs were not flying regular operations, defense watchers also noted the C models greatly enhanced the air-to-air capabilities of the US and Turkish assets as they operate in close proximity to Russian fighters above Syrian airspace. That concern took on added weight after a Nov. 24 intercept and shootdown of a Russian Su-24 in Turkish airspace by Turkish F-16s.


    When asked about the fallout from the shootdown, Air Force Chief of Staff told reporters on Tuesday, “Don’t cross somebody’s border without permission.”


    “Any time there are a number of forces operating in close proximity, there is the potential for errors and mistakes and bad things to happen,” Welsh said at Tuesday’s news conference at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. “It’s an ugly environment any time you are conducting combat operations. People must coordinate and cooperate to do it properly.”
    py

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