[size=10]DION NISSENBAUM in Washington,
EMRE PEKER and
AYLA ALBAYRAK in Istanbul
Updated July 23, 2015 8:28 p.m. ET
Turkey agreed to allow the U.S. to use air bases there to launch strikes against Islamic State forces in neighboring Syria, a major shift long sought by Washington and sealed... The United States may now launch manned and unmanned military strikes against ISIS from inside Turkey, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Prior U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State have originated from aircraft carriers in the Gulf.
Turkey agreed to allow the U.S. expanded use of its Incirlik Air Base, though Turkish military aircraft won’t be used in any operations against ISIS, according to Today’s Zaman, an English language daily based in Turkey. Incirlik is located near the Turkish-Syrian border.
The U.S. currently has six Predator drones at the base, two of which will be armed with Hellfire missiles, according to Zaman.
The news comes amid increasing violence along Turkey’s 560-mile long border with Syria. ISIS is believed to have been behind a suicide attack on Monday that killed 32 and injured 100 mostly Kurdish activists. Kurdish militants, many of whom blame Turkey for not doing more to stop ISIS, reportedly responded by killing two Turkish police officers. A border-area gunfight erupted Thursday between suspected-ISIS extremists and Turkish police, leaving at least one dead on each side.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked about the reported air base agreement during his Thursday briefing but he declined to discuss specifics.
President Barack Obama spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday night in a conversation the White House said focused on Turkey’s border security.“The two leaders discussed efforts to deepen our cooperation in the fight against ISIL,” Earnest said.