Turkish fighter jets early on Friday bombed positions of the self-styled Islamic State (IS) inside Syria for the first time, as police arrested hundreds of suspected extremists after a wave of violence. The air raids against IS targets marked a dramatic hardening of Turkey’s attitude towards the group. Ankara had previously been criticised for not doing enough to combat the jihadists.
IS members were among almost 300 suspected extremists arrested in early morning raids in Istanbul and other cities, authorities said. Kurdish militants and Marxist radicals were also detained. The operations came after the first major cross-border clashes between Turkey and IS jihadists on Thursday which left one Turkish soldier and one militant dead, thrusting Turkey into an open conflict with IS.
The bombing raid was the first by the Turkish Air Force on IS since the extremists 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 US to use a key air base in its south for air strikes against IS.
After taking off from the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir three Turkish F-16 fighter jets dropped four precision guided munitions (PGMs) against three IS targets, a statement from the prime minister’s office said. The Turkish jets dropped their munitions while in Turkish airspace and did not enter Syrian airspace, the CNN-Turk television channel reported.
“An operation was carried out against targets belonging to Daesh inside the Syrian border,” the official statement said, using an Arabic acronym for the group. The planes struck just before 4:00 am local time and then returned to their base.
Source : AFP