Nine Daesh militants killed by Turkish airstrikes in Syria

Published July 24th, 2015 - 05:35 GMT
Three Turkish F-16 fighter jets struck Daesh targets in Syria. (Al Bawaba/File)
Three Turkish F-16 fighter jets struck Daesh targets in Syria. (Al Bawaba/File)

Three F-16s fighter jets took off from the southern city of Diyarbakir for an early morning bombing raid against three ISIS targets in Syria, dropping four guided bombs, a statement from the prime minister's office said.

Turkish authorities have announced that nine Islamic State fighters were killed in the early morning raids. 

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said: 'Turkish aircraft carried out three strikes on IS positions in northwestern Aleppo province, killing nine and wounding 12.' 

Just hours earlier the first major cross-border clashes between Turkey and ISIS took place, leaving one soldier and one militant dead and thrusting Turkey into an open conflict with the jihadis.

And on Monday a suspected ISIS suicide bomber killed 32 anti-ISIS activists in the southern Turkish city of Suruc while they were on a trip to raise awareness of the Syrian city of Kobane.

The overnight bombing raids are the first by the Turkish air force on ISIS since the Islamists began their advance across Iraq and Syria in 2013, seizing control of swathes of territory right up to the Turkish border.

It also came as Turkey, after months of negotiations, finally gave the green light for the U.S. to use a key air base in its south for its air strikes against the terror group.

The decision to launch the Turkish air force's operation was taken at a meeting of security officials in Ankara late last night chaired by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

'In this context.... an operation was carried out against targets belonging to Daesh inside the Syrian border,' the statement said, using an Arabic acronym for the group.

'Three of our F-16s hit... three targets belonging to Daesh,' it said, adding that 'the government of the Turkish Republic is determined to take the necessary measures to protect national security'.

The planes dropped their bombs just before 4:00 am local time (0100 GMT) and all returned safely to their base.

On Thursday, one Turkish soldier was killed and two sergeants wounded on Thursday in the Kilis region by fire from IS militants on the Syrian side of the border. A jihadist was also reported dead.

The United States has reported today that it and its allies staged 27 air strikes against IS militants in Syria and Iraq on Thursday. 

Six of the eight air strikes in Syria hit near al-Hasaka, striking five units of fighters, among other targets. 

In Iraq, the strikes hit multiple targets near nine cities, including Mosul, Makmur and Falluja, the statement said.

Turkish tanks then responded by opening fire on ISIS targets in Syria. 

The fighting erupted after the killing of 32 people in a suicide bombing Monday in a Turkish town on the Syrian border that the government blamed on ISIS.

This sparked an upsurge in violence in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast, where many accuse the Turkish authorities of collaborating with the terror group - accusations Ankara denies.

This morning Turkish police launched raids to arrest suspected ISIS members and Kurdish militants in an apparent bid to stamp down on all sources of violence, the official Anatolia news agency said.

Backed up by helicopters, police raided addresses in several Istanbul districts in search of members of ISIS, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and other militant groups, it added. 

The number arrested was not immediately clear.

The Dogan news agency said that 140 addresses were raided in 26 districts in Istanbul, in an operation involving some 5,000 police.

As well as ISIS and the PKK, the operation targeted suspected members of the PKK's youth wing the The Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement and the Marxist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C), Anatolia said.

Two police had been shot dead in southeast Turkey close to the Syrian border on Wednesday, in an attack claimed by the PKK's military wing which said it wanted to avenge the Suruc bombing.

Yesterday another policeman was killed in the majority Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

Meanwhile, the YDG-H claimed it had shot dead an alleged former ISIS fighter in Istanbul late Tuesday and threatened further assassinations.

Turkey has been accused of colluding with ISIS extremists in the hope they might prove useful in its aim of knocking out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

Ankara has always vehemently denied the claims.

NATO member Turkey has also fallen far short of playing a full role in the US-led coalition assisting Kurds fighting ISIS militants, much to the chagrin of its Western allies.

However Ankara has finally given the green light to US forces for use of its Incirlik base for air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, American officials said Thursday

The Hurriyet daily said that the accord was finalised in telephone talks on Wednesday between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Barack Obama.

The New York Times said the agreement, which would allow manned and unmanned U.S. warplanes to use Incirlik for raids against ISIS, was described by a senior administration official as a 'game changer'.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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