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U.S. airmen at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey

It’s a classic case of wartime “he said, he said.”

The U.S. says Turkey said yes, and Turkey says it said no.


The question about which the answers differ is whether or not Turkey agreed to allow coalition forces use Turkish air bases in the fight against the ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

According to an Associated Press report citing unnamed U.S. officials, Turkey agreed to allow the U.S.-led coalition launch operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria from Turkish bases, including Incirlik Air Base in the south.

Warplanes from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes on four sites in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, three of which were in Kobane, according to U.S. Central Command.

Kobane is the strategically important Syrian town near the border with Turkey, where Kurds have been staging a valiant ground battle against the ISIS death squads for several weeks. The U.S. claimed this weekend’s air strikes destroyed an ISIS fighting position and staging area.

But a Turkish government official told AFP that while “negotiations are continuing,” there is “no new agreement with the United States about Incirlik.”

U.S. crews have long been based at Incirlik Air Base, about 100 miles from Turkey’s border with Syria. There are about 1500 U.S. air force personnel stationed there, but Turkey has thus far refused to allow airstrikes against ISIS to be launched from there. Instead, the aircraft bombing missions against ISIS have been flying out of air bases in the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

On Sunday, Susan Rice told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the U.S. is “continuing to talk to the Turks about other ways that they can plan an important role. They are already essential to trying to prevent the flow of foreign fighters” from exporting oil through Turkey. “So Turkey has many ways it can contribute,” President Obama’s national security adviser said.

Turkey has refused to send in their own ground troops into Syria to fight against ISIS.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: [email protected]