Turkey now extending airstrikes to Syria and Iraq

From today’s Wall Street Journal (H/T Gordon Lubold and Dion Nissenbaum), Turkey has officially confirmed with the Pentagon that the besieged country will begin to conduct air-missile strikes against ISIS/ISIL. Thus far, Turkey has played a limited role in the aerial assaults. Turkey has permitted the U.S. to use come of their air bases to carry out the attacks against the Islamic State, but as of now Turkey will augment their attacks now that they are officially part of the U.S.-led coalition. The strikes, the rate of which are not expected to increase immediately, are expected to be carried out along the Syrian/Turkish border, as well as continuing strikes in northern Iraq.

The article also mentions that ISIL/ISIS is not Turkey’s only concern, as the country has been under attack from Kurdish fighters as of late. Last month, Kurdish fighters affiliated with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a militant-communist political regiment with whom Turkey has had a war against since 1984 and is considered worldwide to be a terrorist organization) in northern Syria were ambushed by the Turkish Army last month. More recently, Kurdish fighters attacked Turkish military bases in Silopi and Diyadin, two towns in Eastern Turkey near the Iran and Iraq borders.

Regardless, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter remains optimistic that the coalition will begin to degrade the power of ISIS/ISIL and prevent them from spreading their influence beyond Iraq and Syria. However, there are plenty of issues that still need to be resolved, such as the problem regarding Turkish citizens crossing the 700-mile border with Syria to join the Islamic State. Furthermore, an article came out yesterday (H/T Natasha Bertrand & Michael Kelley at BI) that allegedly implicated the Turkish government in giving up critical information about U.S.-backed rebel forces entering Syria to fight ISIS. According to the article, Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front has kidnapped several members of the New Syria Force, a rebel group endorsed by the U.S. to take part in the fight against the Islamic State. If confirmed, this would be deleterious to the improved collaborative efforts by the two countries to stop a serious terrorist problem from vexing.

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