US forces hit ISIL targets in Syria with newly deployed HIMARS
ISTANBULU.S. forces hit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets overnight near Turkey’s border with Syria using a newly deployed mobile rocket system, the U.S. embassy in Ankara said Sept. 3.
“Last night: U.S. HIMARS in place and in action. The latest step in U.S.-Turkey cooperation in the fight against #ISIL,” read the embassy’s tweet.
Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter ISIL, retweeted the embassy’s tweet, saying the HIMARS had hit ISIL targets.
“U.S. forces struck ISIL targets near Turkey’s border in Syria last night via newly deployed HIMARS system,” McGurk said on his official Twitter account.
HIMARS refers to a “High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.”
It was not immediately clear when the system was deployed at Turkey’s border but a deal with Washington, which would have seen HIMARS deployed along Turkey’s border with Syria to combat ISIL at the end of May, was previously delayed until it was deployed around mid-August.
Turkey, a member of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL, opened up a new line of attack in northern Syria on Sept. 3, as Turkish tanks crossed the frontier from the Kilis province, starting a western leg in an operation to remove militants from its border.
Launching the Operation Euphrates Shield on Aug. 24, the Turkish army and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition forces, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), took the northern Syrian town of Jarablus from ISIL militants and continued to expand their operation to rid the area of both ISIL fighters and also the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey says is a terrorist organization as it is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The U.S., on the other hand, sees the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as reliable sources in the fight against ISIL.
Turkey wants the PYD and the YPG to retreat to the east of the Euphrates River after the Syrian Kurds helped capture the Syrian town of Manbij, but says only parts of the militia have crossed the Euphrates River to the east.