Turkey demands more effective use of Hellfire missiles in ISIL fight
Deniz Zeyrek - ANKARATurkish government has demanded the U.S. Army use its unmanned aerial vehicles loaded with Hellfire missiles more effectively against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a part of a new strategy to end deadly rocket hits in the border province of Kilis.
Ankara has demanded U.S. predators with two Hellfire missiles at the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana be used more effectively as well as the deployment of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket launchers in the Syria borderline, according to the strategy.
According to Turkish sources, such moves would push ISIL militants southwards, leaving the border province out of battery ranges.
Currently Turkish fighter jets are inactive over Syrian skies following the downing of Russian jet on Nov. 24, 2015 for violating Turkish airspace.
The Foreign Ministry has also demanded raising awareness on the Kilis issue by increasing dialogue with the Department of State, as predator hits have missed ISIL targets.
There are currently four predators and 12 A-10 bomber aircrafts at the İncirlik Air Base.
Meanwhile, Kilis was also one of the agenda topics of a security meeting chaired by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, one that demanded new strategies in the fight against ISIL on the border.
Accordingly, communications with the U.S. will be increased regarding the effective use of U.S. air forces to hit ISIL missile and rocket launchers.
In addition, Turkish artillery units will also be supported by HIMARS.
NATO member countries’ early warning and monitoring systems in the region will also be used more frequently, according to the new initiatives.
However, a ground operation to sweep ISIL militants from the south of Kilis is not on the government’s agenda. Meanwhile, trained militants from Syrian opposition groups are readying for an offensive which will see missile launchers completely destroyed or driven away from firing range.
Katyusha rockets fired from ISIL region in northern Syria into Kilis have claimed 17 lives since January with a fresh attack on April 24 killing two people.