The U.S. began conducting strikes from Incirlik with armed drones last week, Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on August 5, while saying that operations with manned aircraft would take more time. The detachment is part of the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base, in Italy, it said.
The US had previously only used the Incirlik Air Base, which is near the southern city of Adana, for unmanned reconnaissance missions.
“Earlier today, the United States Air Force deployed a small detachment of six F-16 Fighting Falcons, support equipment, and about 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base – Turkey in support of Operation Inherent Resolve”, EUCOM said in a statement.
The deployment of warplanes at the Incirlik base is the first since Ankara and Washington reached a deal two weeks ago to give access to the US and the global coalition in the fight against ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Turkish officials said the contingent included a C-5 transport plane and a KC-135 refueling aircraft, Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency reported.
Turkish media reports say the U.S.is expected to deploy around 30 fighter jets at Incirlik for strikes against IS.
A member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Turkey had refused to participate actively in the anti-IS operations for fear of supporting the Kurdish fighters battling the jihadists on the border in Syria. Anatolia generally bases its information on security and Turkish intelligence sources.
The PKK has meanwhile, kept up its attacks on the Turkish state, killing at least 20 members of the security forces since the start of the latest cycle of violence that has shattered a ceasefire declared in 2013.