Johnny Michael, spokesman for the US European Command, said that claims about the Pentagon reducing its operations at Turkey’s Incirlik base were "just a speculation." This statement was confirmed by Turkish sources, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
On March 11, the Wall Street Journal reported that US military operations at the base in Incirlik had been slashed and that the Pentagon was mulling "permanent cutbacks" due to mounting tensions between the two NATO allies.
According to the media, citing unnamed US officials, "a squadron of American A-10 ground attack jets was moved from Incirlik to Afghanistan in January, leaving only refueling aircraft currently at the Turkish base." The Pentagon said that such a shift was due to the escalating operation in Afghanistan.
The US changes reflect "an overall decline in the tempo of US military operations" against Daesh*, as it reduces the need to deploy American warplanes at Turkey's Incirlik.
According to the report, US military officials noted that operating from base in Incirlik has become challenging, as Ankara has been using the base "as a leverage against the US."
Turkey and the United States, both members of an international coalition of over 60 countries against Daesh, have been at loggerheads for a long time over the issue of Syrian Kurds: Ankara considers Kurdish armed formations to be a threat to its statehood, while Washington has been actively assisting the latter in their fight against Daesh and provided them with arms, despite Turkey's objections. In November 2017, US President Donald Trump pledged to cut off supplies of weapons to Syrian Kurds. However, Turkey continues to maintain that Washington is arming Kurdish fighters.
Daesh* is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia