Germany approves extension of anti-ISIL mission from Turkey’s İncirlik base

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German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen chats with soldiers during a visit of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, on January 21, 2016.

The German Bundestag on Thursday passed an extension of its armed forces anti-ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) mission from Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in southern Adana province amid strained ties between the two countries.

According to the renewed mandate, German Tornado reconnaissance jets will continue to fly missions from İncirlik over Iraq and Syria in support of the US-led coalition against ISIL, which is also based there.

After the Bundestag voted to recognize World War I-era mass killings of Ottoman Armenians as “genocide” in June, Ankara had blocked German legislators from visiting German soldiers at İncirlik, resulting in three months of strained diplomatic relations.

After months of wrangling, Turkey finally approved the visit in September.

However, tension again escalated due to the recent arrest of editors from the Cumhuriyet daily and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies. The German Foreign Ministry had summoned the Turkish chargé d’affaires over Turkey’s detention of 11 pro-Kurdish deputies, foreign ministry officials said.

Amid the growing tension between the two countries and his counterpart’s refusal to accept his phone calls, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced that he was going to visit Turkey next Tuesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had admitted that he twice refused to take a call from German Foreign Minister Steinmeier on Nov. 8.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Çavuşoğlu said: “They think Germany is a superior country and expect us to be ready to take a call whenever they are ready. We are not loafing around here; we also have things to do.”

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