EghtesadOnline: Turkish authorities have restricted access to and from a key air base used in operations against Islamic State militants until further notice, local media reported on Sunday, one day before the U.S. top military official is scheduled to visit the country.
According to Bloomberg, police deployed armored cars to block the gates of Incirlik air base in southern Turkey following intelligence raised suspicion that another coup was being plotted after the failed July 15 putsch, Hurriyet and the pro-government Yeni Safak newspapers reported, without saying how they obtained the information.
Turkey has suspended or removed more than 60,000 people from jobs in the military, security services, judiciary and media since the failed coup. James Clapper, director of U.S. national intelligence, said on Thursday that the purge has affected “many of our interlocutors.” General Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command said Turkey’s “frictions” have already impacted some operations against Islamic State.
The remarks have further strained ties between NATO’s two largest armed forces. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames the attempted coup on his U.S.-based political rival, Fethullah Gulen. While Erdogan has stopped short of directly accusing the Obama administration of fomenting the coup attempt, officials and news outlets are blaming the U.S. with increasing intensity.
U.S. officials have denied any role in the failed putsch. Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is set to visit Turkey on Monday, Erdogan said over the weekend.