Turkey agrees to open bases to US for bombing IS: US official

Turkey pounded IS militants in Syria after a Turkish soldier was killed by cross-border fire from the fighters

Afp July 23, 2015
A photo taken on January 11, 2005 shows US airforce tanker planes lining to take off from the Incirlik Airbase, southern Turkey. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Turkey has agreed to expand its cooperation with the United States in the fight against Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria and Iraq, defense officials said Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal and Turkish dailies Zaman and Hurriyet reported that Turkey will allow the US military to launch airstrikes against the fighters from Incirlik Air Base in eastern Turkey.

But a US defense official would not confirm specifics of the new agreement, reportedly the result of lengthy negotiations, telling AFP only that "the Turks have agreed to expand cooperation."

Under the agreement, the US military will be allowed to use manned and unmanned aircraft based in Turkey to hit targets in Syria, according to the Journal.

President Barack Obama spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday about the fight against IS militants, the White House said.

They also discussed the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where the militants have seized large chunks of territory.

The pair said they would strengthen efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria, and secure Turkey's border, a popular entry point for militants looking to join the IS group, according to the White House.

Word of the US-Turkish deal came as Turkey pounded IS militants in Syria after a Turkish soldier was killed by cross-border fire from the fighters.

The deadly clash was the most serious between the Turkish army and IS since the militants began to take swathes of Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border from 2013.

It followed the killing of 32 people in a suicide bombing in a Turkish town on the Syrian border Monday that was blamed on IS and sparked an upsurge in violence in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.

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