Turkish jets hit ISIL near Syria’s Al-Bab after one week hiatus
Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
Turkish Air Forces warplanes hit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Syria on Nov. 20 after a one-week hiatus, one day after a Turkish soldier was killed in an ISIL attack in the region.
The planes hit targets in Bzaghah, Qabasin, Suflaniyah and the north of Al-Bab, a key town held by ISIL, as part of the “Euphrates Shield” operation. It destroyed four buildings used as headquarters by ISIL militants, the Turkish military said in a written statement.
The last time Turkey made air strikes in Syria was Nov. 12, in which the military said 18 ISIL militants were killed near Al-Bab. No jets had entered Syrian air space since after the Syrian regime activated its air defenses and threatened to shoot down any Turkish jets.
According to sources, the Turkish military started using its jets again in the operation targeting ISIL following a series of meetings with Russian military officials.
As the Turkish military continued to back the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in northern Syria, one Turkish soldier was killed and two others wounded in a bomb attack by ISIL militants near Al-Bab on Nov. 19.
The three soldiers were evacuated alive by helicopter and taken to the southern Turkish province of Gaziantep, but one of them died from his injuries, the sources said.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria in August, sending in warplanes, tanks and special forces in support of largely Turkmen and Arab FSA forces to drive ISIL and Kurdish militants away from its border.
Turkish artillery hit both ISIL and YPG targets over the weekend. According to the military, the shelling targeted 79 ISIL targets and five targets belonging to the Syrian Kurdish YPG, the military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
A number of shelters, command centers, arms and vehicles belonging to ISIL and the YPG were destroyed in the shelling, the military added.
The YPG is an ally of the United States in its fight against ISIL and is not recognized as a terrorist organization by most of the international community. Ankara denounces the YPG as an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).