German defence minister wants to keep troops in Turkey despite row

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday that Germany wants to keep supporting the US-led campaign against the Islamic State from Turkey's Incirlik air base, but acknowledged there were "fallback procedures" in case withdrawal becomes necessary.

"The Bundeswehr would like to continue the joint campaign against (Islamic State) from the NATO base Incirlik," von der Leyen told the Redaktionsnetzwerk media group, adding that "savvy military planning always includes fallback procedures."

The minister was responding to reports that the Bundeswehr is preparing for the withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from Incirlik due to a diplomatic rift between Berlin and Ankara that has prompted Turkey to block German lawmakers from visiting the base.

As a result, the German army is considering Jordan and Cyprus as alternative bases for its 250 troops, six Tornado jets and tanker aircraft, news magazine Der Spiegel reported, citing army sources.

The move would force the Bundeswehr's mission in Iraq and Syria to be interrupted for a period of two months.

"If visiting the soldiers is not made possible, there cannot be an extension of the mandate," Social Democrat lawmaker and defence expert Rainer Arnold told Der Spiegel.

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Germany plans for troop withdrawal from Turkey amid row

The German army is preparing for the withdrawal of its troops and military equipment from the Incirlik air base in Turkey's south-east, news magazine Der Spiegel reported Thursday.

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Last update: Thu, 25/08/2016 - 10:24
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