Aviano F-16s Land at Incirlik to Begin Combat Strikes on ISIS

After months of negotiations between the US and Turkey over allowing anti-ISIS air strikes from Turkish soil, six F-16s from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano AB, Italy touched down at Incirlik AB, Turkey on Sunday Aug. 9 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to a brief announcement from US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, and are expected to begin combat strikes imminently. Th?e deployment, some 300 personnel as well as support equipment, marks the first manned US combat aircraft to deploy to Incirlik to support strike operations in Iraq and Syria. Though Incirlik has played a supporting role in OIR for some time, such as aiding intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance collection, the base has been at the center of intense discussion with Turkish officials who until recently resisted the US request to allow airstrikes to be staged from Incirlik, and select other bases. In the aftermath of ISIS linked attacks on Turkish forces in late July, the Turkish government announced it would allow US and coalition forces to use its bases to stage strikes. The Turkish Air Force has subsequently performed airstrikes on both ISIS elements and the PKK, a Kurdish group identified as a terrorist organization by the US State Department.