- Saudi Arabian aircrafts have not yet reached Turkey but four F-16 fighter jets will come as agreed upon previously, Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on Feb. 14.
“[The Saudi jets] have not yet come [to Turkey], but they came in for reconnaissance. Four F-16 fighter jets will come, the decision has been made, the exploration has been conducted” said Yılmaz late Feb. 14, during a session in the Turkish parliament to discuss the budget of the ministry.
“They have not come today but they may come tomorrow. But an agreement has been reached in principal and it has been said that they could come” said Yılmaz.
On Feb. 13, Saudi Arabian Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri said that the “Saudi kingdom now has a presence at the İncirlik base in Turkey” according to the Al-Arabiya TV station.
“Saudi warplanes are present with their crews to intensify aerial operations along with missions launched from bases in Saudi Arabia” al-Assiri said, without going into further details.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Feb. 14 that Saudi Arabia was sending planes to the İncirlik Air Base in the southern Turkish province of Adana, where jets from the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition are already based.
Meanwhile, military sources told daily Hürriyet Feb. 14 that Saudi warplanes had not arrived at İncirlik, adding that the timeframe of the Saudi jets’ arrival would extend to two or three weeks.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said at a press conference on Feb. 15 that no Saudi aircraft was in Turkey in order to contribute to the U.S.-led coalition to fight against the Islamic State (IS).
“There are Saudi Arabian aircrafts in Konya within the framework of air defense training. But there are no Saudi Arabian aircraft in Turkey within the framework of the international coalition fighting against Daesh,” said Bilgiç, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
“But in the coming future Saudi Arabian planes will come to Turkey within the framework of a leading decision [taken within the coalition]. There are British, American, German and Qatari aircrafts in İncirlik. Saudi Arabian aircrafts [will be added] to these,” Bilgiç said.