Germany is planning to open an air base in southern Turkey that will assist its military in an intensified campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria. The planned $73 million base will be built as an extension to the Incirlik base, which both the German and U.S. military use for refueling missions to Syria, Spiegel reported.
The new base is expected to include an air control center for German military aircraft, accommodations for soldiers and a combat headquarters. The news comes as Turkey is reportedly discussing a treaty to station German soldiers for extended deployments on Turkish soil, the Local reported.
The German air force has been based out of the Incirlik base in southern Turkey since the Paris terrorist attacks last November, which left some 130 people dead. The attack, for which the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility, prompted various countries to ramp up their support for the battle against it. The air base is expected to be completed by next summer.
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The news is not without controversy. An opposition leader told Spiegel that he was surprised by how quickly Germany has become entrenched in an alleged long-term military operation.
“Although this mission against ISIS came so suddenly, Defense Minister [Ursula] von der Leyen seems to want to dig in for the long term,” Tobias Lindner from the Green Party said.
German Tornado jets have been used to photograph potential bombing sites for NATO allies. The international community has struggled to defeat ISIS, which holds large swaths of Syria and Iraq, but has recently weakened the group's hold. Amid the air strike campaign, ISIS has lost about 20 percent of its territory in Syria and 40 percent in Iraq.
President Barack Obama announced Monday during a speech in Germany the U.S. plans to send an additional 250 special operation forces to Syria. The troops will help in training and assisting local forces fighting ISIS, the president said.