Officials are reviewing plans to evacuate as much as 50 U.S. nuclear bombs, which have long been stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey within the wake of Ankara’s military offensive in northern Syria, based on a report.
The weapons are now virtually “hostage” to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a senior official told The News channel on Monday.
The Cold War-era B61 nuclear bombs are mentioned to be 100-250 miles from the Syrian border, according to the newspaper. A former U.S. official informed the outlet that Turkish diplomats responded to recommendations about moving the bombs by saying Turkey would begin to develop its own.
“The potential issues have been discussed for over a decade,” the former official said. “And now we’ve finally gotten to a point where this can be a problem that we can’t ignore anymore.”
Erdogan has previously expressed a need to boost Turkey’s nuclear arsenal.
President Trump announced on Oct. 6 that the U.S. would draw all troops from the northeast Syria region, clearing the way for a Turkish air and ground incursion. Erdogan’s troops launched an assault on Wednesday, and ground forces invaded later that day.
The Pentagon stated Friday that U.S. troops near the border town of Kobane in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkish regions. No American soldiers were injured.
In an interview with News channel, a senior adviser to Erdogan denied that Turkey had fired at U.S. troops.
Trump stated Monday that U.S. troops in northeastern Syria would be withdrawn from the country as planned and redeployed “within the region to monitor the situation and prevent a repeat of 2014,” when the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) made significant territorial gains.