ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon said today that Turkish officials still have not restored power to Incirlik Air Base, the launching pad for operations against the Islamic State, since it was cut as a result of Friday’s coup attempt.
Press secretary Peter Cook told reporters today that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter had not “spoken directly” with Turkey’s defense minister, Fikri Isik.
Isik appears busy with his boss’ purge, as he told Anadolu Agency that the country “never witnessed such a flagrant act of betrayal as that last coup attempt.”
Cook added that Turkey had been “invited to participate” in a Wednesday meeting at Joint Base Andrews that’s expected to draw defense ministers from about 30 countries to talk ISIS.
“He spoke recently with the minister of defense at the Warsaw Summit,” Cook said, referring to a pre-coup event. “They has an excellent bilateral conversation then and he looks forward to talking with the minister in coming days.”
On Incirlik: “My understanding, power has not yet been restored, but our operations there do continue. And we’re going to continue to take whatever steps we need to, to try to mitigate any impact that there could be on the campaign itself.”
Asked why the power was cut in the first place and how much longer restoration would take, the spokesman replied the power issue “is something that is outside the walls of the base itself.”
“So, I’ll leave it to the Turkish officials to describe to you what’s happening with — in terms of the effort to restore power and what led to the outage in the first place,” he said.
Incirlik Airbase commander General Bekir Ercan Van was arrested in a raid on the facility. The government said it also wants to weed out other soldiers there accused of complicity in the coup attempt.
Cook said the U.S. has had refueling and attack aircraft based out of Incirlik.
“Incirlik is obviously an important part of our military campaign. And we’ve used it very effectively. And we appreciate, of course, the Turks’ willingness to allow us to fly operations out of there, the coalition as a whole. It’s not just U.S. aircraft,” he added.
“And it will continue to be an important part of the campaign. We were able to conduct the campaign previously, without having Incirlik. We have the ability to adjust our operations in such a way that we can account for problems or delays there.”
Cook stressed the Defense Department would “adjust, as we need to, to make sure we keep the pressure on ISIL, that we keep our operations going.”
“And we are very thankful the — that the coalition is able to — to adjust in other ways should there be any sort of delay or some sort of impact on our operations going forward,” he said.