Turkish PM says Russia can ‘share’ Incirlik airbase with NATO ‘if necessary’

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In the heat of Russia-NATO standoff in the Baltics and over Ukraine, Ankara has again come out with controversial statements. On Saturday, the Turkish PM Binali Yildirim has given Russia the go-ahead to use its Incirlik air base for operations in Syria, though no official request from Moscow to use the strategic military facility has been made.

The base, located in Turkey’s Adana province, is some 100 kilometers from the Syrian border and is currently being used to launch airstrikes by the US-led coalition against ISIS.

“Turkey opened Incirlik airbase to fight ISIS terrorists. It is being used by the US and Qatar. Other nations might also wish to use the airbase, which the Germans are also now using,” Yildirim told reporters on Saturday according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Asked if Moscow could share the airfield with coalition forces, Yildirim said that “If necessary, the Incirlik base can be used.”

Yildirim also denied news reports that Russia was demanding to use Incirlik for its military operations in Syria.

“I don’t think they have a need for Incirlik. Because they already have two bases in Syria,” he said.

Incirlik has been a major foothold for the USAF in the region. The base houses some 90 B-61 nuclear bombs.

Turkey has been pivoting towards Russia lately, after a failed coup attempts in mid-July.