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August 5, 2015

US launches first airstrike from Turkey against ISIL

The US military has reportedly carried out a strike against ISIL-controlled northern Syria using an armed drone, marking the first of such US air strikes from a Turkish territory.

By Samseer M

The US military has reportedly carried out a strike against ISIL-controlled northern Syria using an armed drone, marking the first of such US air strikes from a Turkish territory.

Pentagon spokesman captain Jeff Davis was cited by The Wall Street Journal saying that an American drone aircraft carried out the first strike from Incirlik.

A Turkish official was quoted by AFP saying: "A US drone today carried out one air strike in Syria near Raqqa."

"We’re seeing that manned and unmanned American planes are arriving and soon we will launch a comprehensive battle against Islamic State all together."

Launched from Incirlik Air Base, the latest strike comes after Turkey formally agreed to open its air bases to the US and coalition aircraft to fight against ISIL.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu was quoted by state broadcaster TRT saying: "As part of our agreement with the US, we have made progress regarding the opening up of our bases, particularly Incirlik.

"We’re seeing that manned and unmanned American planes are arriving and soon we will launch a comprehensive battle against Islamic State all together."

Turkey, which is a Nato member, had shown years of reluctance to take part in the fight against ISIL. It finally agreed to join the coalition after suspected ISIL members bombed one of its border towns in July.

The new partnership will see both countries delivering air cover for US-trained Syrian rebels and efforts to combat ISIL fighters from a strip of northern Syria that stretches 50 miles along the Turkish border, the Guardian reported.

Diplomats familiar with the plans said 60 US-trained rebels will be highly equipped and offer close air support.

ISIL has currently captured a major portion of Syria and Iraq, strengthening its efforts to form an Islamic caliphate.

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