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Pentagon readies aircraft carrier to assist Turkey earthquake rescue efforts

US European Command has begun pre-positioning supplies at Incirlik Air Base to support Turkey's efforts.
A French Navy Rafale jet lands the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier on May 11, 2018 in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Pentagon has ordered a US aircraft carrier operating in the Mediterranean Sea to prepare to support earthquake rescue efforts in Turkey should the government in Ankara request it.

“US European Command right now is prepositioning some assets to include medical supplies, water, relief supplies," Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Wednesday.

“In addition, USS George H. W. Bush in the Mediterranean is moving toward Turkey to be in position should Turkey request additional assistance," Ryder said.

Lending a hand: The show of support from Washington comes after the USS George H. W. Bush made a port call in Greece following US exercises with Israel two weeks ago.

Early on Wednesday, a pair of US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes delivered two USAID urban search-and-rescue teams, including 161 personnel and 170,000 lbs. of emergency equipment, from the continental US to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey's heavily-effected southeast. From there, the USAID teams were set to head to Adiyaman to support local and international response efforts.

Yesterday, two UH-60 transport helicopters based out of Incirlik delivered four Turkish emergency personnel to Hatay province at the request of the Turkish government, a US military source confirmed to Al-Monitor.

"We’re trying to do everything we can to lean forward, be responsive to their requests and help them as they try to save lives," Ryder told reporters.

Fast movers: NATO countries have mobilized quickly to support Turkey in the aftermath of the country's deadliest earthquake since 1999. 

“Just a couple hours after the earthquake, we sent a call from the NATO headquarters to all NATO allies to provide immediate support to help Türkiye with the consequences of the devastating earthquake," Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance's Secretary General, said alongside top US diplomat Antony Blinken during a visit to Washington on Wednesday.

Know more: In neighboring Syria, the US military is working with the Kurdish-led forces to support emergency response efforts, officials said.

The Biden administration has pushed back on criticism that US sanctions on Syria's central government have hampered rescue and recovery efforts in areas under Damascus' control. 

Only one border crossing remains authorized for aid deliveries to Syria's opposition-held northwest, where local aid groups have hastened to dig out survivors.

The UN hopes to deliver the first batch of cross-border aid via the Bab al-Hawa crossing tomorrow after routes linking Gaziantep to the UN transshipment hub in Hatay were blocked, the body's regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Muhannad Hadi, said today in a press briefing today.

UN officials identified two alternative routes to Bab al-Hawa today, from Gaziantep via Kilis-Kirikhan and from Mersin via Adana-Kirikhan, the body said in a statement.

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