Washington is working to install a new air base in Iraq’s Kurdistan to be used in a campaign against Islamic State (ISIS), media report. This comes as the White House’s special envoy on ISIS speaks of a ground operation in Iraq against the militants.
This time an American stronghold in the region will be deployed in Erbil, the capital of semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq that is expected to be used as a logistics hub to supply primarily munitions for warplanes of the US-led coalition against ISIS militants.
“The base is close to Erbil, the capital of the regional government…The warplanes will do surveillance, but the warplanes which will bomb ISIL targets will not take off from here,” Helgurt Hikmet, spokesperson for the Ministry of Peshmerga (Kurdish self-defense forces) said, as cited by Anadolu Agency.
Turkey’s Hurriyet also reported that the US is preparing documents to get land leasehold for the next 15 years to station US military personnel and warplanes. A number of the US Air Force’s Black Hawk helicopters have already been deployed to Erbil earlier this month, to ensure quick rescue operations to save downed pilots bombing ISIS positions in Northern Iraq. Such operations became a priority after ISIS fighters burnt alive a downed Jordanian pilot.