U.S. military arrives in Turkey to assist with earthquake relief


The US military has begun deploying forces to assist with earthquake relief in Turkey, officials said Friday, with a Navy headquarters overseeing the mission and a Marine general. on the ground to assess the extent of support needed.

Brigadier General Andrew Priddy, commander of naval task forces in Europe, arrived at Incirlik Air Base on Thursday, a Turkish base used by the US military, a short distance from the quake’s epicenter. about 120 miles to the west. He joined a group from the US European Command headquarters in Germany. Officials said any aid provided by the US military would be coordinated through the US Agency for International Development at Turkey’s request.

General Christopher Cavoli, head of European Command, said in a statement that US forces supported search and rescue efforts and provided medical assistance and other aid. . He called the quake “an unfathomable disaster”.

Live Update: Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll reaches 23,000

The military’s expanded disaster response mission, first reported by The Washington Post, has been announced as the death toll from the earthquake over 23,000. Many buildings in southern Turkey and northern Syria were razed, leaving thousands more injured and homeless. The cold winter weather added to the suffering.

The United Nations has also sent aid groups to the region, but those efforts have been hampered by infrastructure damage and the ongoing conflict in Syria. divided the country.

It is not clear how the military can also assist in Syria, where the US maintains a limited counter-terrorism mission In the northeast. In a statement on Wednesday, the top US officer overseeing US military activity there, General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, said his headquarters had established a team to “strengthen support” assistance” to affected people in both countries.

While Turkey and Syria border each other, European Command oversees US military missions in Turkey and Central Command leads the missions in Syria. Turkey, a NATO ally, has a much closer relationship with Washington, even though it was stressful at times.

Kurilla’s spokesman, Colonel Joe Buccino, said on Friday that Central Command “is leaning forward as much as possible” to prepare to assist people in Turkey or northern Syria. The general and his staff are in contact with European Command, USAID and the Syrian Democratic Forces, the group in northern Syria with which the United States has cooperated in the campaign against the Islamic State.

No Place To Run: Earthquake Displaces Syrians in Rebel Land, Again

The Department of Defense did not specify which US military units could be called upon to assist on the ground. A US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations, said “there have been no major requests for personnel yet”.

An option commonly deployed for humanitarian crises, a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, is unavailable because senior commanders at the Pentagon have left gaps between rotations. their usual movements in the region, two other US officials said. Those units were deployed with about 2,200 Marines aboard three Navy ships, but none were in Europe for months as the U.S. military faced a shortage of ready-to-ship ships, officials said.

“If there is an MEU there, it will respond,” said one official. “They’re not there, and that’s a problem.”

US military spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Day, said Friday that the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and its associated escorts arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea within hours of being directed there on Tuesday, and ready to provide logistics, as well as medical and helicopter support.

Army helicopters have also begun flying missions out of Incirlik, including delivering first responders to sites hardest hit by the earthquake and transporting injured civilians. to a medical facility. Day said additional US planes in Europe are being sent to Incirlik to increase capacity.

Day said U.S. Air Force personnel based in Incirlik are assisting Turkish military forces as they unload thousands of pounds of food and other aid from allies and partners. . Air Force jets were flying carrying supplies and relief personnel from the United States, including urban search and rescue teams.


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