Turkey destroys ISIS missile launcher, kills 900 militants in Syria raids

Ankara also allows US jets to use its air base in southern Turkey for air bombardments on the extremist group

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Turkey's military said it destroyed ISIS missile launcher in Syria some 20 kms from the border town of Kilis which has been repeatedly his by rockets from the border, Turkish television stations reported.

They said eight militants were killed in the attack. The missile launcher was placed 6 kilometres from the border, the military reportedly said.

It was also reported that Turkey killed almost 900 alleged ISIS members since January through artillery fire and air raids, the state-run Anatolia news agency said Monday, citing military sources.

The country, a member of a US-led coalition fighting ISIS, has killed 492 "terrorists" since January 9 in air raids, while another 370 were killed in artillery strikes which also destroyed arms depots, the agency said.

These figures could not be independently verified.

Turkey, which has been hit by attacks blamed on jihadists, including two deadly suicide bombings in Istanbul that targeted foreign tourists, began to carry out air strikes against the group in Syria last summer.

Ankara also allows US jets to use its air base in southern Turkey for air bombardments on the extremist group in Syria.

Turkey began its air strikes following a suicide bombing in July last year blamed on ISIS extremists, which killed 34 people in the border town of Suruc.

In recent weeks, the Turkish border town of Kilis has come under frequent attack from rockets fired across the border from Syria, prompting the army to respond to each strike with howitzer fire.

Militants deported

Turkey has deported more than 3,300 foreigners suspected of links to militants groups, particularly ISIS militants, and another 41,000 foreigners have been barred from entering the country as part of its fight against the militant group, a top official said Monday.

Turkish profiling teams have also interviewed 9,500 people upon their arrival in Turkey, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters. Some 2,000 of them were denied entry as a result.

Around 2,770 suspects, including 1,232 foreigners, have been caught in police sweeps and 954 of them are being prosecuted, Kalin said.

He didn’t give further details. Turkish officials have refused to provide a breakdown of the militants suspects by nationality or give details on the countries they have been deported back to.

Separately, Turkey’s state-news agency, citing unnamed military sources, said close to 900 alleged ISIS militants have been killed since January in Turkish artillery and air strikes against the group in Syria. The agency said 492 of the militants were killed in air raids while another 370 were killed by artillery fire. The agency didn’t specify how the figures were obtained and it wasn’t possible to verify them independently.

Turkey, long accused of turning a blind eye to the extremists crossing into Syria, has now taken a larger role in the fight against ISIS, opening a key air base in southern Turkey to the US-led coalition fighting the extremists and reinforcing its border to prevent infiltrations.

(With Reuters, AFP and AP)