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Turkey Hits IS in Syria, PKK in Iraq

  • VOA News

A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft is parked at Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, Turkey, July 24, 2015.

A Turkish Air Force A400M tactical transport aircraft is parked at Incirlik airbase in the southern city of Adana, Turkey, July 24, 2015.

Turkey carried out a wave of attacks in two regions Saturday. The military continued attacks it began Friday, targeting Islamic State jihadists in Syria. In addition, Turkey began a new air campaign in northern Iraq on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK.

"Strikes were carried out on targets of the Daesh (IS) terror group in Syria and the PKK terror group in northern Iraq," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office said in a statement.

The strike on the PKK marks the first time Turkey has hit the Kurds in Iraq from the air since a peace accord was announced in 2013. A government statement said Turkey's jets hit PKK shelters, bunkers, storage facilities and other "logistic points."

PKK spokesman Bakhtiar Dogan told the French news agency "Turkish warplanes started bombing our positions near the border, accompanied by heavy artillery shelling."

On Friday, Turkey launched cross-border airstrikes against Islamic State targets and opened its air bases to U.S. warplanes attacking extremist forces in Syria.

The Foreign Ministry in Ankara said U.S.-led coalition forces could operate from all air bases in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants.

The Turkish statement said it would also take part in anti-Islamic State operations inside Syria.

Three of Ankara's F-16 fighter jets took off from Diyarbakir in southeastern Turkey early Friday and dropped guided bombs on an Islamic State headquarters and another site facility in Syrian territory, Turkish officials said.

Turkish media reports another mission took off late Friday. The airstrikes were Turkey's first against Islamic State targets in Syria.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters the Turkish pilots hit their targets "with 100 percent accuracy" and returned safely to their bases. He vowed that Turkey "will not turn a blind eye" to the threat from Islamic State fighters

"Our message is quite clear: I have given full authority to the Turkish armed forces that whoever causes any threat to the borders of the Republic of Turkey will be responded to accordingly without any further notice," he added.

Turkish soldiers patrol near the border with Syria, ouside the village of Elbeyli, east of the town of Kilis, southeastern Turkey, July 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria early Friday, government offi

Turkish soldiers patrol near the border with Syria, ouside the village of Elbeyli, east of the town of Kilis, southeastern Turkey, July 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria early Friday, government offi

Earlier Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey has agreed to let American jets use the U.S. Incirlik Air Base for combat missions against the Islamic State group.

Together with the decision to open Turkish air bases to allied warplanes, Erdogan's action was seen as a significant escalation of the battle against the Islamist extremists.

The airstrikes were Turkey's first against Islamic State targets in Syria.

Turkish leaders' decision to relax restrictions they had previously placed on combat missions into Syria from their territory followed consultations by telephone earlier this week between Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Police raids

In a separate Turkish offensive Friday, officials said 251 people were detained during massive raids at dawn nationwide, targeting both Islamic State and Kurdish militant groups.

More than 5,000 police officers, backed by helicopters, raided at least 100 locations across Istanbul, media reports said.

The U.S. military has operated Incirlik Air Base since it was built in 1951, but in recent months Turkey rejected repeated Washington's repeated requests to approve use of the base for attacks against Islamic State.

The air base is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold in Syria, and would sharply cut the length of the 1,900-kilometer (1,200-mile) bombing runs the U.S. has been carrying out from Iraq into Syria.

IS control

Despite thousands of sorties flown against IS forces in Syria and Iraq, the militants still control wide swaths of northern and western Iraq and northern Syria, just across from Turkey.

Turkish police officers carry the coffins of police officers Feyyaz Yumusak and Okan Acar, during a funeral procession in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, July 23, 2015.

Turkish police officers carry the coffins of police officers Feyyaz Yumusak and Okan Acar, during a funeral procession in Sanliurfa, southeastern Turkey, July 23, 2015.

In recent weeks Turkey has seen itself drawn into more cross-border clashes.

On Thursday, Islamic State fighters in Syria and the Turkish military engaged in a skirmish that left at least one Turkish officer dead.

A devastating bombing in Suruc, Turkey, Monday killed 32 people, mostly young activists preparing for an aid mission to Syria. The Turkish government for the first time blamed the Islamic State group for the assault.

Two days later, two Turkish police were shot dead near the Syrian border.

The Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK, claimed the attack, saying it was retaliation for the Turkish government colluding with the Islamic State group.

Turkey denies the charges.

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