Turkey has finally relented under pressure from NATO allies and launched its first bombing raid on Islamic State targets in Syria. It is also expected to allow US aircraft to use its base in Incirlik for launching bombing raids in Syria; a move that will make targeting Islamic State in the north of the country far easier.
Today’s raid also follows Monday’s suicide attack on the Kurdish town of Suruc in Turkey and an attack yesterday where Islamic State fighters attacked the border town of Kilis and killed one Turkish soldier.
Police in Turkey also carried out a number of arrests. As well as targeting Islamic State, Turkey is engaged in a long-running battle with its substantial Kurdish minority; many of whom wish to break away to form a separate state. Members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and of the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front (DHKP-C) were arrested alongside suspected Islamic State militants according to the Turkish authorities.
Yesterday, Kurdish fighters killed two police officers in Celanpinar, allegedly in retaliation for what they said was police collaboration in Monday’s attack on Suruc.
Turkey has long resisted US and wider western pressure to get more deeply involved in the war against Islamic State in neighbouring Syria despite finding itself increasingly coming under attack from extremists and taking in a large number of refugees from the conflict. It has traditionally sided with opposition to the governing regime in Syria, of which Islamic State is a growing part. The majority of Turkey’s population adhere to a form of the Sunni branch of Islam; the same branch that Islamic State claim to belong to.
by Daniel Grummitt