Turkey’s foreign ministry announced on Thursday that US warships will permanently remain in the eastern Mediterranean in order to support Turkey’s defense needs.

“Recently, the American warship visited (Turkey’s naval base) Aksaz. Such visits will continue. The destroyer USS Donald Cook and similar ships will always be in the east of the Mediterranean Sea for the protection of Turkey, their presence will be increased,” RIA Novosti reported ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic as saying.

On October 30, an unnamed senior US defense official said that dozens of F-15C jets would join A-10 ground attack aircraft at the Incirlik Air Base in south Turkey. Earlier, around a dozen “tank killer” A-10s landed at Incirlik in mid-October.

Although the Pentagon announced that the deployment is to ‘ensure the safety’ of America’s NATO allies, the move was seen by some as a counter to Russia’s airstrikes in Syria.

“I didn’t say it wasn’t about Russia,” Laura Seal told The Daily Beast late Tuesday in a follow-up to comments describing the deployment as a way to “ensure the safety” of Turkish aircraft.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is discussing the possibility of leaving SAM Patriot in Turkey for 2016, but the decision is still pending.


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