BERLIN, Germany (Kurdistan24) – Germany has begun withdrawing its troops from a Turkish airbase from which they supported operations against the Islamic State (IS) after issues with Ankara remained unresolved, a German defense ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
A German air tanker refueller left the Incirlik base in Turkey for Jordan on Sunday, the ministry spokesman told Reuters.
A Turkish official also confirmed the reports, stating Germany’s defense minister discussed the withdrawal date at a meeting during the NATO summit in Brussels.
The German Parliament approved the removal from the Turkish base in June after bilateral differences between the NATO allies reached an impasse.
Last month, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen confirmed the Bundeswehr soldiers would pull out of the Incirlik air base following strained relations with Turkey.
Turkey had denied German lawmakers to make regular visits to the base, claiming Berlin needed to improve its attitude toward Ankara, accusing them of “Nazi-like” tactics.
The political tensions increased after Germany banned some Turkish politicians from campaigning on its soil for a referendum which granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan increased authority.
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a bilateral meeting with Erdogan had uncovered “deep differences” between the nations at odds with each other.
Germany has over 250 military personnel present at the Incirlik air base.
The troops fly tornado surveillance operations over Syria and refueling flights for partner nations in the coalition against IS.
Regarding Germany’s role in the Middle East, von der Leyen had previously stated the country’s transfer of troops would temporarily put Berlin’s mission in the region on hold.
Editing by G. H. Renaud