“Until the end of June, our flight plans as part of the anti-Islamic State coalition are set,” the minister, Ursula von der Leyen, told German media on Sunday. “After that, we’ll be transferring our tanker aircraft as quickly as possible to Jordan.”
The tanker aircraft will be operational again after the transfer approximately in the second half of July, according to the minster. The relocation, however, is expected to disrupt the operations of Tornado combat planes for at least two months.
“For the Tornados it would mean at least two to three months downtime, and for the refueling aircraft about two to three weeks. So, I will try to hold talks with the anti-terror coalition immediately, especially with the Americans, in which we can discuss how to close the gaps, so that it’s not disadvantageous,” von der Leyen said.
All the planes are expected to become fully operational before October, the minister said.
Germany has some six Tornado fighter jets, a tanker plane used for refueling and about 280 troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik airbase. The contingent was deployed to the base in response to the Paris terrorist attacks in December 2015.
Germany started to look for a possible replacement for Turkey’s Incirlik airbase as relations between the two countries took a new hit mid-May, when Ankara blocked a scheduled meeting of German MPs with troops stationed at the base.
The decision came after Berlin granted asylum to a number of Turkish nationals, who were accused by Ankara of participating in the July 2016 botched coup attempt in the country. Those people reportedly hold diplomatic passports and were stationed in NATO facilities in Germany at the time of the attempted coup.
Turkey made a similar move last year, prohibiting a delegation of lawmakers from visiting the base, following the German parliament’s decision to brand the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenians in the early 20th century as genocide. Ankara firmly denies that any genocide took place.
While the two countries have been trying to settle the Incirlik issue, Berlin considered possible alternatives for the base, eventually settling on a military airfield in Jordan. The decision to abandon the Turkish base was greenlighted last week by the German cabinet last week.
Turkey has shown little remorse over the decision, stressing that it was solely up to the Germans to withdraw its forces.
Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım said that Germany can “remove its troops however it wants.”
“There is no decision we have taken on this. They can have it their own way,” he told reporters.
Iran fires missiles against ‘terrorist bases’ in E. Syria in retaliation for Tehran attacks
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have reportedly launched ground-to-ground mid-range ballistic missiles from the western Iranian provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan into the eastern Syrian province of Deir-ez Zor.
“The spilling of any innocent blood will not go unanswered,” Press TV cited a statement by the Revolutionary Guards as saying.
The Revolutionary Guards targeted the bases and headquarters of terrorists that Iran believes to be responsible for the Tehran attacks. The missiles have reportedly killed large numbers of terrorists and inflicted significant material damage, Tasnim said.
The Revolutionary Guards used Zulfiqar solid fuel ballistic missiles, which have an effective range of 700 kilometers, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
A number of videos purporting to show the moment of the missile launch have emerged online.
The first video was taken in a western Iranian city by a man who seems to have spotted the missile launch.
“I bet that’s a missile,” a man in the video is heard saying.
The terrorists targeted the Iranian capital on June 7 in a twin attack, with four armed assailants attacking the country’s parliament while a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 18 people and injured 50 more.
While the Iranian missile strike is a significant military action, its main goal was political, according to Peter Ford, a former UK Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, who believes the strike will send a clear message to Iran’s enemies in the region.
“Militarily, it’s significant. The strike appears to have taken out quite a number of ISIS fighters and leadership. But the political ramifications are the most important. Saudi Arabia will have received the signal loud and clear,” Ford told RT.
“Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, encouraged by Donald Trump, has thrown down the gauntlet to Tehran and been virtually threatening military moves against Tehran. Well, here’s Tehran’s response: Don’t mess with us, we have a long reach.”