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Turkish Airstrikes Hit 3 ISIS Targets in Syria

Turkey ISISTurkish fighter jets struck three Islamic State targets inside Syria on Friday in a pre-emptive measure based on intelligence about a planned attack on Turkey, a senior government official said.

The airstrikes came a day after Turkey engaged in its first direct combat with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, on the Syrian border and gave permission for American warplanes to use two air bases in the fight against the group in Syria.

As well as the airstrikes, Turkey carried out simultaneous raids across 13 provinces on Friday, resulting in the arrests of 250 people suspected to have ties to terrorist organizations.

Three F-16 jets launched guided bombs against two command centers and a meeting point for Islamic State fighters across the border from Kilis, in southern Turkey, without entering Syrian airspace, according to the prime minister’s office.

“We received intelligence about stockpiles of weapons and a gathering of Islamic State militants very close to our border,” the senior government official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in line with protocol. “The operation was carried out, not as an offense, but as a defense.”

It was the first time that Turkish warplanes have bombed Islamic State targets inside Syria. Hours earlier, the combat on the Syrian border with Islamic State militants left one Turkish military officer dead.

After facing months of pressure from its Western allies to pursue a more active role against the Islamic State, Turkey on Thursday made a major tactical shift by granting permission for American warplanes to use two Turkish air bases. The move was described as a “game changer” by United States officials.

The moves came at a time of heightened violence and tension along the 500-mile border between Turkey and Syria. On Monday, a suicide bombersuspected of having ties to the Islamic State struck a cultural center in the Turkish border town of Suruc, killing 32 people and wounding 100 others.

Turkish fighter jets retreated from the border early Friday, according to the Turkish authorities, who said that more airstrikes would be possible once the level of risk had been assessed.

The New York Times

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