Last US carrier exits Gulf as Russia escalates ME action

US military officials report that the USS Theodore Roosevelt was pulled Thursday out of the Gulf, leaving the US Navy for the first time since 2007 with no aircraft carrier in the Middle East. This week, Russian warships twice fired cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea. DEBKAfile: The Roosevelt carries some 5,000 troops and 65 combat planes. Most of the US air strikes conducted in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – usually against ISIS – were mounted from its decks. According to the Pentagon, US air strikes will continue to be launched from bases in Turkey. However, our sources report that the US Air Force keeps no more than half a dozen F-16 warplanes at those bases. They are nowhere near filling the gap left by the Roosevelt’s departure.

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