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Diyarbakir Air Base, Turkey

The predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir is one of the large and important cities of easthern Turkey. The population of Diyarbakir is about 510,000 and the city is located in the South East of Turkey.

The headquaters of the second Tactical Air Force Command in Diyarbakir has the responsibility of three airbases in the east of Turkey.

The last 20 of the F-16s delivered under Peace Onyx I were scheduled to replace the Starfighters of Diyarbakir-based 181 Filo, which finally retired its last F-104Gs in April 1994. The first of the Block 50 aircraft re-equiped Filo 182 at Diyarbakir from July 1996 as replacements for the group's CF-104 Starfighters.

In April 1996 a new squadron of Turkish F-16 jets from Diyarbakir air base in southeastern Turkey took off on Monday for Italy, to relieve Turkish jets already serving there as part of a NATO force monitoring peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In October 1997 Turkey continued its operation in northern Iraq by attacking and destroying PKK terrorist organization positions in the area with jet fighters. Military officials said that jets from the Diyarbakir air base in southeast Turkey hit a PKK camp at Khwakurk, a mountainous district near Iraq's border with Iran. Ankara says it has killed 600 PKK fighters since some 15,000 troops backed by armoured units and air power crossed into northern Iraq in September 1997. The militant separatists use bases in northern Iraq to strike across the border.

The accidental shoot down of two US Army Black Hawk helicopters by two US Air Force F-15s during Operation Provide Comfort highlights numerous problems areas. Two American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters took off from Diyarbakir on 1994 at approximately 0820 local. Their mission was to transport passengers and cargo from Diyarbakir to the MCC Headquarters at Zakhu. From Zakhu, their mission was to transport the co-commanders of the MCC and other staff officers to the Kurdish towns of Irbil and Salah ad Din, Iraq, and return. At 1030 local the F-15 flight lead reported they had "splashed" two Hind helicopters.

The economy of the city is based on agriculture, animal husbandry, beverage, wool washing, fish and meat processing. Diyarbakir is situated in a region whose heritage is unique. South east Anatolia is regarded as the place where civilisation started. Ethnically speaking, Turks, Kurds and Arabs share this ancient city, hence the unique atmosphere. Many of the locals where Arab style clothes or the old fashioned baggy trousers which are rare in other parts of Turkey.

Situated on the banks of Tigris (Dicle) river in South-Eastern Anatolia, Diyarbakir still carries a medieval air with its walls encircling the city. These black basalt walls are perfect examples of the military architecture of the Middle Ages. They are also very well known since they are the second largest (5.5 kms) and best preserved walls in the world after the famous Great Wall of China. The walls were originally built in the year 349 during the Roman period, and have been repaired at various times during the Islamic period. Although there were Roman, and probably earlier walls here, the present walls date back to early Byzantine times. There are sixteen keeps and five gates, each of which deserves seeing along with their inscriptions and relief. There are four main gates along the wall, called Dag Kapi, Urfa Kapi, Mardin Kapi and Yeni Kapi.

Starting from the earliest times, the city was ruled by the Hurri-Mithani, Hittites and Assyrians. It was once the capital city of the Arami Bit-Zamani Kingdom. It was later occupied or ruled by the Meds, Persians, Macedonians, Seleukos, Romans, the Ilkhanide and the Akkoyunlu Seljucks. It is referred to as Amidi, Amid, Amido or Amida in different sources. In Islamic - Arabic sources it is cited as "Diyar-i Berk". In the republican era it is started to be known as Diyarbakir, deriving from the copper ore existing in the area.

Another fascinating sight in the city center, is the Ulu Mosque, notable for its original architecture and the ancient materials used in the restoration of the building at various times. Nearby the Ulu Mosque is the Mesudiye Medresse and Hasan Pasha Ham, a caravanserai now being used by carpet and souvenir shops. The Nebii Mosque is a typical example of the Ottoman style. The Church of the Virgin Mary is interesting and it is still in use.






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