US pulling out its F-15 fighter jets from Turkey’s Incirlik base

ERBIL, Kurdistan (Rudaw) – Washington is pulling out 12 F-15 fighter jets it deployed at Turkey’s strategic Incirlik air base just last month, the United States European Command (EUCOM) said Wednesday.

In a brief report, it said the planes were returning to the Lakenheath air base in the United Kingdom, starting today.

Six of the jets are F-15C Eagles and the other six are F-15E Strike Eagles. The former were deployed on Nov. 6, after Turkey requested them to defend its airspace, and the latter flew in six days later.

Unlike the Strike Eagles, which are multirole strike fighters, the F-15C Eagles are built largely for aerial combat. Turkey presumably wanted the US jets to help prevent Russian or Syrian aircraft from breaching Turkish air space.

The jets were deployed at Incirlik before the Turkish downing of the Russian Su-24 ‘Fencer’ aircraft on Nov. 24.

The withdrawal of the US jets comes amid heightened tensions between Moscow and Ankara, and as the Russians are increasingly bombing anti-regime and Islamist groups in northwestern Syria and their supply lines, which go from Turkey into Syria.