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U.S. to launch strikes against Islamic State from Turkey

By Danielle Haynes
U.S. to launch strikes against Islamic State from Turkey
An F-16CJ takes off from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The Turkish government said it will allow the U.S. military to use the base to launch attacks against the Islamic State in Syria. File photo by Dennis J. Henry Jr./ U.S. Air Force | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- Turkey has agreed to allow the U.S. military to use an air base on its soil in order to conduct attacks against the Islamic State in neighboring Syria, U.S. defense officials said Thursday.

Under the deal, the U.S. military will use Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey to send fighter jets and drones to fight IS -- also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL -- defense officials told The Wall Street Journal.

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Turkey changed its policy after months of negotiation and after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday.

The two discussed "deepening our ongoing cooperation in the fight against ISIL, as well as common efforts to bring security and stability to Iraq and a political settlement to the conflict in Syria," a White House statement said.

Out of a lack of desire to be drawn too deep into the growing fight against the terror group, Turkey has previously only allowed the United States to use the air base to fly unarmed drones.

A more extensive deal could involve the use of Turkish military ground spotters in Syria to help guide U.S. airstrikes, U.S. officials told The Washington Post.

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The move came just hours before IS and Turkish forces exchanged fire across the border with Syria.

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