Turkey: U.S. Airmen & Their Families Locked Down at Air Base
Some 1,500 US airmen and their families have been locked in the southern Turkish air base of Incirlik together with a stock of tactical nuclear bombs since President Reccep Erdogan crushed an attempted coup on Saturday, July 16. In the four days up until Wednesday, July 20, therefore, no air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq have been staged from that Turkish base.
This extraordinary situation, reported here by Debkafile’s military sources, whereby a large group of American military personnel are held virtual captive by an allied government, was almost certainly raised in the phone call that took place Tuesday between President Barack Obama and Erdogan. But the most outlandish aspect of this affair is that no American official has raised it in public - nor even by the administrations most vocal critics at the Republican convention which nominated Donald Trump as presidential candidate.
The situation only rated a brief mention in some Russian publications under the heading: “Turkish investigators enter & search Incirlik air base where US nukes are housed.”
Our military sources report that deep bunkers located near the base’s running strips house B61 tactical nuclear gravity bombs.
In the course of the massive sweep-cum-purge Erdogan is conducting in every corner of the country, hundreds of police officers accompanied by Ministry of Justice and Attorney General Office investigators are the only people permitted to enter the strategic air base, and only emergency cases may leave, after coordinating with the Turkish authorities.
The base is under virtual siege by large police contingents, cut off from electric power for several days except for local generators which will soon run out of fuel. This pressure appears to be Erdogan’s method of turning hundreds of Americans on the base into hostages to force Washington into extraditing Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating the failed coup from his place of asylum in Pennsylvania.
The victims of Erdogan’s strategy of extortion are several US units deployed in Incirlik under squadron command. They include engineering, communication, logistics, air control, a military hospital with medical and operational facilities, air transportation and more.
The Turkish squadron and base commander, Brigadier Gen. Bekir Ercan, is under arrest, suspected of a senior role in planning and executing the coup, by assigning the aircraft and helicopters to support it, responsibility for the disappearance of a large number of aircraft and aiding the defection of air crews to Greece.
He is one of the more than 6,000 military personnel including fellow generals arrested on suspicion of active complicity in the coup plot.