US drone bombs IS target after taking off from Turkey: Turkish official

By AFP
Published: August 5, 2015
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA: A US armed drone bombed a target in Islamic State-controlled northern Syria on Wednesday, in the first such air strike by a US aircraft after taking off from Turkish territory, a Turkish official told AFP.

“A US drone today carried out one air strike in Syria near Raqa,” said the official, referring to the town in northern Syria the IS group sees as its capital.

The drone had taken off from Turkey’s Incirlik air base in the south of the country which Ankara has now opened to the US military for armed attacks on IS targets in Syria, the source added.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier announced that Turkey was ready to begin a “comprehensive” fight against IS militants in Syria alongside the United States, after months of staying on the sidelines of the US-led coalition.

Last month Ankara said it would allow US warplanes to launch attacks from the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, which is just 200 kilometres (125 miles) from IS positions in northern Syria.

The Pentagon announced this week that US armed drones had taken off from Incirlik to conduct missions over northern Syria but this was the first time an air strike had been carried out.

Turkey, a member of the international coalition led by its NATO ally Washington, had so far declined to take robust action against militants but after a deadly bombing in July in a border town blamed on suspected IS militants, it launched limited strikes against the group in Syria.

Turkish officials have suggested Ankara will step up its strikes against IS once US operations from Incirlik are in full swing.

According to media reports some 30 US fighter jets are due to arrive at the facility in the next days in order to take part in the operation.

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