Turkish fighter jets struck three Islamic State targets in Syria early Friday morning, a response to intelligence suggesting a likely attack from the group, government officials said.
A government statement said the decision for the operation was made at a security meeting on Thursday, held after IS militants fired from Syrian territory at a Turkish military outpost, killing a soldier.
Turkey’s air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Ankara’s consent to the US using a key airbase to launch attacks on the militant group signal a strategy switch.
On Thursday, gunfire from Syria killed a Turkish military officer and injured two troops in southern Kilis province, prompting Turkish forces to return fire.
Turkey acted hours after officials in Washington said Ankara had agreed to let U.S. jets launch air strikes from a base near the Syrian border, dropping its earlier refusal to allow manned American bombing raids from there.
Tensions flared with Kurds after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was “determined to stop forces from other countries” interfering in Turkey, referring to the latest arrests.
Turkey on Friday detained 251 people in coordinated nationwide dawn raids against suspected Islamic State (IS) militants and Kurdish militants following a wave of deadly violence in the country, the prime minister s office said.
Turkey has yet to publicly confirm the agreement, which US officials discussed on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment publicly. “Turkey will show the strongest reaction to the slightest movement that threatens it”.
The Turkish authorities blamed the attack on IS, with the bomber identified as a 20-year-old believed to have travelled to Syria last year with the help of an IS-linked group. Another small bomb was thrown at officers in a police vehicle in Semdinli, near the border with Iraq, the agency said.
The private Doğan news agency said as many as 35 ISIS militants were killed in the airstrike on the gathering point.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told The Associated Press Turkish airstrikes struck north of the village of Hawar al-Nahr, east of the Rai area and west of the town of Jarablous. It reportedly added that the Turkish planes did not violate Syrian airspace.
Turkey would take “all necessary measures” to protect national security following the attacks, the prime minister’s office said. The allies have urged Turkey to do more to prevent its border being used as a conduit to Syria by foreign jihadists.
Turkey and the U.S. would take “concrete steps” in the upcoming days in line with the agreement, Davutoglu said.
Unlike in Iraq, where Canada has participated in dozens of airstrikes, Canadian forces saw little action in Syria in the first few months after Parliament approved extending the mission.