Turkish fighter jets pound ISIL positions in Syria

Ankara says bombings hit three ISIL targets close to the border, as police detain 251 people across 13 provinces.

Turkey Syria border
Turkish media reported that ISIL fighters shot at the Turkish army in Kilis, a town on the border with Syria [AP]

Turkey has launched air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions in Syria following a suicide bomb attack by a suspected ISIL affiliate in Suruc.

Three F-16 fighter jets bombed three ISIL targets from Diyarbakir airbase shortly before 4am local time on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said in a statement.

“Four guided bombs targeted two headquarters and an assembly point,” the statement said.

Davutoglu said at a press conference later on Thursday that the operation was not a one-off move and would widen gradually based on the security needs of his country.

“Whoever targets Turkey… should not forget that Turkey is strong and powerful,” said Davutoglu.

Meanwhile, Turkish police raided more than 100 suspected ISIL, Kurdish and leftist armed group locations across the country in overnight operations late on Thursday.

One member of the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP/C), was killed in an exchange of fire with police forces during the raids in the Bagcilar neighbourhood of Istanbul.

The Istanbul raids, carried out in 26 districts of the city, were supported by 5,000 police officers and helicopters.

In Ankara, at least nine people were detained in 12 different locations.

In total, similar operations were carried out in 13 provinces, resulting in 251 detentions, according to the coordination centre of the Turkish Prime Ministry.

Turkish anti-terrorism police raided more than 100 suspected locations across Turkey [Anadolu/Getty Images]
Turkish anti-terrorism police raided more than 100 suspected locations across Turkey [Anadolu/Getty Images]

The air strikes and raids came shortly after US defence officials said Ankara had agreed to allow US planes to launch air strikes against ISIL from its airbase at Incirlik, close to the Syrian border.

Erdogan on Friday confirmed the agreement, saying: “They [US warplanes] will use it [the base] the same way within a certain framework.” 

Davutoglu said that the agreement reached with the US “regarded the concerns of Turkey.”

Turkey has faced increasing insecurity along its over 900km border with Syria.

Earlier on Thursday, Turkey fired tank shells across the frontier after fire from ISIL fighters killed a Turkish soldier near Kilis, an area where Ankara had recently sent reinforcements.

The ability to fly manned bombing raids out of Incirlik, a major base used by both US and Turkish forces, against targets in nearby Syria could be a big advantage. Such flights have had to fly mainly from the Gulf.

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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama and Erdogan agreed to “deepen” cooperation in the fight against ISIL.

The news came as one Turkish army officer has been killed and two soldiers injured in cross-border gunfire with ISIL fighters inside Syria on Thursday.

Turkish media reported that ISIL fighters shot at the Turkish army in Kilis, a Turkish border town. Semi-official Anadolu News Agency’s reporters told Al Jazeera that the Turkish army immediately retaliated by attacking an ISIL base on Syrian territory, killing at least one fighter.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Suruc in southeastern Turkey, said there was tension at the Turkish-Syrian border.

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“The Turkish media is saying that this [exchange of fire] is very substantial,” he said. “Turkish media is calling this the first direct clashes between ISIL and Turkish military.”

Clashes continued late on Thursday, with the Turkish army heavily targeting ISIL targets in Syria.

The Turkish military released a statement confirming the reports of the officer’s death, stating that five ISIL fighters opened fire on the soldiers who then returned fire.

“One officer was killed and two soldiers were wounded,” the statement said.

Following the attack, the Turkish government deployed more forces on the Syrian border.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters