US launches first air strikes against ISIL from Turkey's İncirlik air base
A United States Navy plane approaches to land at the Incirlik Air Base, in AdanaThe United States has launched air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria by using Turkey's İncirlik air base for the first time, U.S. officials told CNN International on Aug. 5.
Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, sources in Ankara confirmed the report, adding that American armed drones hit a number of targets near Raqqa, ISIL's stronghold in Syria.
The use of the İncirlik base comes as the U.S. began launching airstrikes to defend U.S.-backed Syrian rebels and recently deployed armed drones at İncirlik.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had said hours before CNN's report that the two countries "have made progress" on the use of İncirlik by American military jets.
“The U.S. planes have started to come; we will soon launch the comprehensive fight against Daesh all together,” he told Anadolu Agency in Malaysia on July 5, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.
Meanwhile, Turkey says it "rejects and condemns" a statement by the head of the Arab League who criticized the country for conducting air strikes in northern Iraq.
A Foreign Ministry statement on Aug. 5 called on Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi to "support the fight against terrorism, not terror" after he asked Turkey to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and cautioned against an escalation of violence.
After hitting ISIL targets in Syria, Turkey has also launched air raids against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) across the border in Iraq in recent weeks, amid increased violence between the government forces and the insurgents.
Iraq last week called the raids a dangerous escalation and a violation of its sovereignty.
Turkey’s Western allies have urged restraint and called on Ankara to resume peace efforts with Kurds.