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US F-16s that downed Turkish drone in Syria took off from Jordan, not Turkey: ministry

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Turkey’s Defense Ministry has denied claims that US F-16 fighter jets that shot down a Turkish drone in northeast Syria last week took off from İncirlik Airbase in Turkey, saying they flew from an airbase in Jordan.

The Pentagon said US F-16 warplanes on Oct. 5 shot down a drone belonging to NATO ally Turkey that was deemed a potential threat to American forces in Syria.

Turkish military officials initially denied that the drone belonged to the armed forces, but the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed on Oct. 6 that the drone was Turkey’s. Some reports said it belonged to Turkish intelligence agency MİT.

“The claims suggesting that the US jet that downed the UCAV belonging to Turkey in Syria took off from İncirlik [Airbase] are mere speculation. This is out of the question. The [US] jets took off from Jordan,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

İncirlik Airbase is located in the southern province of Adana. The US Air Force and the Turkish Air Force are the primary users of the airbase.

Although the downing of the Turkish drone initially attracted a mild response from Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his far-right ally and the leader of a nationalist opposition party in separate statements this week condemned the incident, with Erdoğan vowing retaliation when the time is right.

Nationalist İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, at a party meeting on Wednesday, talked about the allegation that the US warplanes that shot down Turkey’s drone took off from İncirlik Airbase.

She called on the US to immediately vacate İncirlik if the US government is uncomfortable with Turkey’s presence in Syria.

The US government is known to have deployed various aircraft at the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Azraq, Jordan, due to the military intervention against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

There are also approximately 2,936 US military personnel deployed to Jordan to support Defeat-ISIL operations, to enhance Jordan’s security and to promote regional stability at the request of the government of Jordan,, according to the White House.

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