The United States has conducted its first drone strike into northern Syria from a base in Turkey, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, ahead of what Ankara said would soon be a "comprehensive battle" against ISIS militants there.
A spokesman in Washington said the raid by an unmanned drone was launched on Monday from the Incirlik air base near the southern city of Adana in Turkey, a U.S. ally with the second largest armed forces in NATO. Preparations were underway for strikes inside Syria by manned U.S. warplanes.
Until recently, only reconaissance drones flew missions from Incirlik.
But Turkey formally agreed to open its air bases to U.S. and coalition strike aircraft last month, a major policy change after years of reluctance to take a frontline role against the Islamist fighters pressing on its borders.
Ankara and Washington have been working on plans to provide air cover for a group of U.S.-trained Syrian rebels and jointly sweep ISIS from a strip of territory stretching about 80 km (50 miles) along the Turkish frontier.
"As part of our agreement with the U.S. we have made progress regarding the opening up of our bases, particularly Incirlik," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier told state broadcaster TRT, referring to a major air base near the southern city of Adana.
"We're seeing that manned and unmanned American planes are arriving and soon we will launch a comprehensive battle against ISIS all together," he said during a trip to Malaysia.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem was quoted by state television on Wednesday as saying Syria supported efforts to combat ISIS provided they were coordinated with Damascus.
"For us in Syria there is no moderate opposition and immoderate opposition. Whoever carries weapons against the state is a terrorist," he was quoted as saying during a visit to ally Iran, adding Damascus had been informed about the presence of the U.S.-trained rebels.
"The United States contacted us before they sent in this group and said they are fighting against Daesh (Islamic State) and not the Syrian army at all," he said.
"We said we support any effort to combat Daesh in coordination and consultation with the Syrian government, otherwise it will be a breach of Syrian sovereignty."
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر