On Thursday, Turkey agreed to allow the US military to use an airbase to strike the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. The news comes only a few days after a horrific suicide bombing in Suruc, which is just across the border from Kobane.
Retired General John Allen and Department of Defense Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth met with Turkish officials earlier this month to iron out the details. The agreement means the US military will use the Incirlik Air Base, but no one will use Turkish aircraft in the strikes. The air base already houses six US Predator drones. Turkish media reports at least two “will be armed with Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.”
President Barack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke with each on Wednesday to make the agreement official. However, a White House spokesman declined to offer a statement when Reuters reached out to them.
Early Thursday morning an ISIS terrorist “shot and killed a Turkish soldier” just across the border in Syria. Turkish military said that soldiers killed at least one militant.
On Monday, a suicide bomber murdered 32 people and injured 100 in Suruc at “a cultural centre hosting anti-Islamic State activists.” Those at the event were about to head to Kobane, a strategic Kurdish town recently recaptured by Kurdish forces. Suruc is directly across the border from Kobane. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it is a “high probability” ISIS caused the attack.
“What’s necessary will be done against whomever is responsible,” he declared. “This is an attack that targeted Turkey.”
The increased efforts against the Islamic State follow repeated suggestions by many in the region that Turkey’s emphasis on taking down the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has pushed Turkish leadership to help fighters who would later join ISIS. In July 2014, an ISIS member told The Jerusalem Post that Turkey provided funds for the terrorist group:
Turkey paved the way for us. Had Turkey not shown such understanding for us, the Islamic State would not be in its current place. It [Turkey] showed us affection. Large [numbers] of our mujahedeen received medical treatment in Turkey. We do not have the support of Saudi Arabia, but many Saudi families who believe in jihad do assist us. But anyhow, we will no longer need it, soon. We will build the Islamic state in the territories from Tigris to Jordan and Palestine and to Lebanon. Sunni Law will rule.
A few months later, a Turkish nurse complained to authorities about treating members from the Islamic State. The nurse, only known as E.G., works in a hospital in Mersin, which is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and across the ocean from Syria.
“We treat them, and they go on to decapitate people,” she said. “I am sick of treating wounded ISIL militants.”