The US launched its first air strikes against Isis targets in Syria from the Turkish Incirlik Air Base on 12 August, the US military announced. The manned air strikes come just three days after the US deployed six F-16 fighter jets from the 31st Fighter Wing to the Turkish airbase.
According to Reuters, Turkish security sources confirmed that Turkish fighter jets were not involved in the manned US air strikes on 12 August. Turkey first agreed to launch air strikes against Isis in Syria back in July.
As previously reported by IBTimes UK, the US Air Force also deployed support equipment and around 300 personnel to the air base earlier in the week.
Turkey has agreed to allow the US-led coalition to use the strategically-located Incirlik Air Base, giving the US the opportunity to quickly strike against the jihadi group. According to CNN, the air base shortens flight times for US fighter jets, particularly into Syria, compared to take off from bases in Iraq or aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.
Ankara, which has faced increasing insecurity along its border with Syria, had been reluctant to allow the US-led coalition access to its bases because they were working with Kurdish fighters, CNN reported. Turkey has had a tumultuous relationship with its own ethnic Kurdish population, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referring to Isis militants and Kurdish fighters as "terrorists" last year.
The US has led efforts to combat Isis but has not deployed troops to fight on the ground. However, outgoing Army chief General Raymond Odierno recently stated putting boots on the ground should be considered a viable option if progress is not made against the terrorist organisation.