ISTANBUL — The United States is sending armed missions into Syria from Turkey for the first time, despite an unresolved dispute between Washington and Ankara about the rules for U.S. warplanes attacking targets in Syria from Turkish airbases.
The Pentagon announced Monday it sent its first armed drones from Turkey into Syria over the weekend. Combat aircraft are expected to lift off from Turkey’s Incirlik air base, just 60 miles west of the Syrian border, in the near future, spokesman Jeff Davis said.
The drone flights are the first concrete result of a recent agreement between Turkey and the U.S. that allows Washington to deploy fighter jets from the NATO airbase at Incirlik to attack Islamic State positions, adding punch to the U.S.-led offensive against the jihadists.
Turkish officials say other Turkish bases near the Syrian border are also available for allied fighters. That makes things much easier for the Pentagon, as many of the U.S. jets so far have been flying to Syria from aircraft carriers in the Gulf, more than 1,200 miles to the south.