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Turkish Aircraft Have Bombed Islamic State Militants in Syria

Three F-16 jets took off from an airbase in southern Diyarbakir in Friday's early hours and hit three Islamic State targets with laser-guided smart bombs, the prime minister's office said.
Photo via AP

Turkey launched airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) militants in neighboring Syria on Friday, following a border clash between the two sides that killed a Turkish soldier.

Three F-16 jets took off from an airbase in southern Diyarbakir in the early hours of the morning and hit three IS targets with laser-guided smart bombs, the office of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a statement.

IS fighters fired on a Turkish border post on Thursday, fatally shooting one soldier and prompting a brief skirmish that also left at least one IS fighter dead.


The strikes mark a significant shift in Ankara's attitude towards IS. Turkey is a member of the US-led coalition that has been conducting a widespread bombing campaign on IS in Iraq and Syria since last year, but it has not taken on a prominent role despite having land borders with both countries.

IS has been able to bring weapons and fighters into its territory through Turkey and smuggle oil out on a fairly large scale, prompting criticism from the international community. Turkey has since tightened security and detained hundreds of IS suspects, officials say.

Related: Turkey's President Erdogan Denies Helping Islamic State Massacre Civilians in Kobane

Ankara also decided this week to allow American aircraft to conduct operations from Incirlik airbase near the Syrian border, according to a number of reports, something that would enable the US to intensify its air campaign against IS.

Turkey has not yet officially confirmed the deal, but local media reported that it was finalized in a Wednesday call between President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during which they pledged to "deepen" cooperation in dealing with the extremist group. Negotiations over American use of the base had been going on for months.

Also Friday, Turkish police carried out a series of raids on "terror organizations", including IS as well as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). According to an official statement. 251 people were detained across 13 different cities.


One woman — suspected to be a member of the DHKP-C  — was killed during a shootout with police in Istanbul, according to the official Anadolu Agency.

The dual security operations come as Turkey is increasingly enmeshed in the fight against IS. A suicide bombing blamed on IS killed 32 people in Suruc, a small town in Sanliurfa province on the border with Syria on Monday, an attack widely viewed as being at least partly motivated by the crackdown against IS.

Two police officers were also found shot dead nearby on Wednesday. The PKK subsequently claimed responsibility, claiming the men were IS collaborators. Anadolu said that 35 of those arrested on Friday were PKK suspects in Sanliurfa.

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