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US move from Qatar and Turkey air bases 'fake news', says military

Al-Udeid in Qatar is one of the US' biggest air force bases [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2018

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The US military has quashed rumours that it plans to move from two major regional air bases in Turkey and Qatar.
The US military has strongly denied reports it is planning to move its forces from airbases in Qatar and Turkey, in a statement issued Sunday.

US Central Command issued a short statement via its Twitter account late Sunday, saying that it had no intentions to close Incirlik in Turkey or al-Udeid in Qatar, insisting reports to the contrary are false.

"The US is not leaving Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, nor is the US leaving Al Udeid AB, Qatar. These reports are false and without merit," the tweet read.

Another tweet by the US Air Forces Central Command (US AFCENT) also denied the rumours.

"There is zero credibility to news reports asserting the U.S. is leaving Incirlik and Al Udeid air bases in Turkey and Qatar," the tweet read.

"These unhelpful reports feed mistrust and division among regional partners at a time when we need to work together to address shared security concerns."

Other US generals have also said it is business as usual at the two bases.

The comments follow a report in Israeli media that the US was planning on quitting the Turkey and Qatar bases.

Tensions between the US and Turkey have heightened in recent months over Washington's support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-jihadi force dominated by Kurdish militias.

Ankara argues that the group's main force - the People's Protection Units (YPG) - is tied to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to take the SDF-held Syrian town of Manbij, despite the presence of US troops there.

Al-Udeid is one of the largest US air bases in the world and has played a key role in the war against the Islamic State group.

Qatar has been under a blockade by a Saudi-led alliance since June.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is one of the main architects of the blockade on Qatar and is currently on a three week tour of the US.

Saudi media have made regular claims - without presenting proof - that Washington might abandon its Qatari airbase.

Al-Udeid is currently undergoing a massive expansion and upgrade by the US military.

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