US launches first drone strike from Turkey against IS group
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The U.S. military has carried out its first drone strike from a base in Turkey against Islamic State targets in Syria, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, adding that preparations were under way for strikes by manned U.S. aircraft as well.
Turkey last month agreed to let the United States launch strikes against Islamic State militants from Turkey, a long-awaited concession by a NATO ally which has disagreed with Washington over policy in Syria.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said an American drone aircraft carried out the first strike on Monday from Incirlik, a major air base near the southern city of Adana. He declined to provide further details.
“The U.S. and Turkey have decided to deepen our cooperation broadly in the counter-ISIL fight,” Davis said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
Turkey said earlier on Wednesday a U.S.-led coalition will soon launch a “comprehensive battle” against Islamic State militants from Turkish air bases.
Ankara and Washington have been working on plans to provide air cover for a group of U.S.-trained Syrian rebels and jointly sweep Islamic State from a strip of territory stretching about 80 km (50 miles) along the Turkish frontier.
But those rebels have faced dramatic early setbacks: some are believed to have been captured by al Qaeda’s Syria wing, Nusra Front, and one is believed to have been killed last week.
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