The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that an armed drone was used to carry out the first U.S.airstrike launched from the Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey against ISIS in Syria.
Turkey, which last month approved the use of Incirlik for strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also pledged to work out a comprehensive strategy with the U.S. for combating ISIS and creating a safe zone along the Turkey-Syria border.
The drone strike Tuesday was a precursor for manned and unmanned flights against ISIS out of Incirlik, about 70 miles from the Syrian border.
Turkey had previously limited the U.S. to surveillance flights from Incirlik, but the new agreement will allow Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve coalition partners to effectively and efficiently get more aircraft over targets in a timely fashion.
U.S. warplanes had been making more than 1000 mile round trip flights from other bases in the region to hit targets in Syria, but basing aircraft in Turkey to support CJTF-OIR gives the coalition another strategic location from which to conduct operations.
In agreeing to the use of Incirlik last week, Turkey also committed its forces for the first time to fighting ISIS.Its airstrikes have been concentrated on hitting bases of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) in northwestern Iraq.The US has listed the PKK as a terrorist group.
Last year,Congress approved $500 million requested by the Obama administration to vet, train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to combat ISIS in a program that was projected to have 3000 fighters in the field by the end of this year.