Personnel from the United States Air Force’s 621st Contingency Response Group have expanded and modified an airstrip near Sabit (or Septe) on the Sarrin plain, south of Kobane, Syria.
Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command, said the base gives the US military an additional location to launch and land aircraft to support US and other anti-ISIS forces in the campaign to recapture Raqqa, Stars and Stripes reported.
The airstrip has been modified to support C-130 and C-17 transport aircraft, and was first used by a C-17 in December, Thomas said.
“It’s a very important logistical hub for the Raqqa operation,” Thomas told AFP, adding that the C-17 can carry “all of the small armored technical vehicles and small armored infantry vehicles that are in play and authorized to move into the region.”
Before the runway improvements, the closest airbases the US could use to support coalition operations were in Turkey at Incirlik and Diyarbakir.
General Carlton Everhart, who heads US Air Mobility Command, said personnel have supported coalition forces on the ground and the base enables aircraft to deliver supplies and equipment, and helps position forces.
The 621st Contingency Response Group entered Syria in November on a C-130. Senior Master Sgt. Chris Wright said a contingent of civil engineers, security forces and intelligence personnel were deployed temporarily to expand the base to “support every type of airframe across the [Defense Department] spectrum.”
The contingency response group was deployed in Syria for fewer than 120 days and therefore was not included in the 503-troop limit for US forces in Syria.
— Aldin 🇧🇦 (@aldin_ww) April 3, 2017