Turkey Restores Access to Key Airbase After Brief Ban, IHA Saysby
Armored cars blocked gates during four hours of restrictions
U.S. top military leader due to visit Turkey on Monday
Turkish authorities restored access to and from a key air base used in operations against Islamic State militants, local media reported on Sunday, one day before the U.S. top military official is scheduled to visit the country.
Incirlik air base in southern Turkey reopened following a meeting with security officials. Police used armored cars to block the gates earlier Sunday following intelligence that raised suspicion another coup was being plotted following the failed July 15 putsch, Ihlas News Agency reported, without saying where it got the information. The ban lasted four hours, the agency said.
Turkey has suspended or removed more than 60,000 people from jobs in the military, security services, judiciary and media since the failed coup. James Clapper, director of U.S. national intelligence, said on Thursday that the purge has affected “many of our interlocutors.” General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Turkey’s “frictions” have already impacted some operations against Islamic State.
The remarks have further strained ties between NATO’s two largest armed forces. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames the attempted coup on his U.S.-based political rival, Fethullah Gulen. While Erdogan has stopped short of directly accusing the Obama administration of fomenting the coup attempt, officials and news outlets are blaming the U.S. with increasing intensity.
U.S. officials have denied any role in the failed putsch. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is set to visit Turkey on Monday, Erdogan said over the weekend.