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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Obama's best friend forever denied use of base for Foley-Sotloff rescue - was an Israeli base used?

From a lengthy Wall Street Journal article that I received by email on the failed July 3 attempt to rescue US hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff from ISIS (Hat Tip: Dan F). The two were both subsequently beheaded, with videos posted online.
The U.S. hoped to launch the raid from a base in Turkey that would give easy access to Raqqa. But the Turks, worried about their own hostages, were wary, U.S. officials said, so the U.S. sent the team to another country in the region for final preparations.
Shifting the operation didn't delay matters, said one of the military officials, although the distance to Raqqa increased. A senior Turkish official denied that the U.S. approached Ankara seeking a base in the country. The ultimate host country agreed on the condition the U.S. not reveal its identity.
Gee, I wonder what country was the 'ultimate host country.' There are only two possibilities really: Israel or Jordan.

Incirlik (Turkey's air base) to Raqqa is 458.3 kilometers by land.

One base that might have been used is Jordan's al-Muwaffaq air base, which is east of Amman. I could not find out how far away that air base is (Amman is 526 kilometers away), but flying from Jordan would have required taking a roundabout route or crossing substantial Syrian and/or Lebanese territory.

Among Israeli air bases, Ramat David is 671.5 kilometers from Raqqa by land, Palmachim is 778.9 kilometers from Raqqa by land, Hatzor is 799 kilometers from Raqqa by land, and Hatzerim is 854.4 kilometers from Raqqa by land. But the advantage of using an Israeli base is that you go straight out over the Mediterranean until you reach the Syrian coastline and then fly along the Euphrates (see the bottom left map)... as Israel did when it destroyed Assad's nuclear capability at al-Kibar.


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