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35 militants believed dead as Turkey gets very, very aggressive towards Islamic State

The eastern European country, which borders Syria, has finally entered the fray.

Turkey Syria Attack Turkish tanks hold position near the border with Syria yesterday Source: AP

TURKISH WARPLANES STRUCK Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria today, government officials said, a day after IS militants fired at a Turkish military outpost, killing a soldier.

The bombing is a strong tactical shift for Turkey which had long been reluctant to join the US-led coalition against the extremist group.

A government official said three F-16 jets took off from Diyarbakir airbase in southeast Turkey earlier today and used smart bombs to hit three IS targets. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of government rules requiring authorisation for comment, said the targets were two command centres and a gathering point of IS supporters.

Turkish media said the targets were the Syrian village of Havar, near the border, but officials would not confirm the location.

35 killed

The private Dogan news agency said as many as 35 IS militants were killed in the airstrike that targeted the gathering point. The agency did not cite a source for the report and there was no official confirmation.

A government statement said the decision for the operation was taken at a security meeting yesterday, held after five IS militants fired from Syrian territory at the outpost and prompting Turkish retaliation that killed at least one IS militant.

Ahmet Davutoglu Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with his cabinet and military commanders during a security meeting in Ankara yesterday Source: AP/Hakan Goktepe

The official said the Turkish planes did not violate Syrian airspace.

The bombing followed a decision by Turkey this week to allow the US military to use the key Incirlik air base near the Syrian border to launch air strikes against the Islamic State, senior US officials said.

Turkey has yet to publicly confirm the agreement, which US officials discussed on condition of anonymity.

Citing operational security, the White House declined to confirm the agreement, but noted that President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to “deepen our cooperation” against IS in a phone call on Wednesday.

The agreement follows months of US appeals to Turkey and delicate negotiations over the use of Incirlik and other bases by the US-led coalition — a sensitive topic in Turkey.

American officials said access to the base in southern Turkey would allow the US to move more swiftly and nimbly to attack IS targets.

Today Turkish police launched a major operation against terror groups including IS, carrying out simultaneous raids in Istanbul and 12 provinces and detaining more than 250 people, a government statement said.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said as many as 5,000 police officers were involved in the operation which was also targeting the PKK Kurdish rebel group and the outlawed far-left group, DHKP-C.

The agency said 98 people were detained in Istanbul — 36 of them foreign nationals. It did not give details as to their countries of origin.

Turkey Syria Attack A youth uses binoculars to look at Turkish army tanks holding positions near the border with Syria Source: AP

One DHKP-C suspect, a woman, was killed in a gunfight with police in Istanbul, Anadolu reported.

Turkey’s moves came as the country finds itself drawn further into the conflict by a series of deadly attacks and signs of increased IS activity inside the country.

Earlier in the week, a suicide bombing blamed on IS militants killed 32 people in a town near the Syrian border.

Turkish officials have raised concerns that the bombing was part of a campaign of retaliation for Turkey’s recent crackdown on IS operations in the country. In the last six months, Turkish officials say, more than 500 people suspected of working with IS have been detained.

Read: These pictures of a deadly ISIS attack have been banned in Turkey

Read: Two dead after gunman opens fire in Louisiana cinema

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Associated Press

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