Berlin, June 8: The German government decided on Wednesday to withdraw its troops from Turkey’s Incirlik base near the Syrian border after last-ditch talks with Ankara failed to resolve an escalating row.
Germany plans to move the 280 troops but has stressed it wants to minimise any disruption to the US-led coalition operation against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, of which it is part. The cabinet backed the withdrawal of troops from the base in southern Turkey following Ankara’s refusal to allow German lawmakers access to its soldiers there.
The military personnel along with Tornado surveillance jets and other hardware will be moved to Jordan’s Azraq base instead, said Defence minister Ursula von der Leyen. The withdrawal process for refuelling aircraft would take about two to three weeks and the relocation of reconnaissance jets two to three months.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to play down the dispute, saying she “views this issue as a very localised one”. With the decision made to move troops out of Turkey, Berlin can now “concentrate on other points” in its negotiations with Ankara, said Merkel.
Turkey was infuriated over German authorities' decision to grant asylum to soldiers and other individuals that Turkey accuses of participating in a failed coup attempt last July. Relations were further tested when Germany, citing security concerns, banned some Turkish politicians from campaigning on its soil and Turkey jailed two German journalists.