Turkish soldier killed in Iraq by IS rockets fired at base

AP News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2016 2:59 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish Air Force jets on Saturday joined coalition forces in attacking Islamic State targets in northern Iraq, hours after a Turkish soldier was killed at a military base in the region from rockets fired by the extremist militants.

Although Turkish jets have struck IS positions in Syria in the past, the attack marks Turkey's first aerial assault on the group in northern Iraq.

The Turkish soldier was killed by rockets fired by IS militants during a fight with the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces that landed at a base in the Bashiqa region where some Turkish soldiers are stationed. A second Turkish soldier was slightly wounded.

In a statement carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency, Turkey's military said U.S.-led coalition war planes hit four IS positions in the region following the Bashiqa attack. The Turkish Air Force jets then joined the coalition air strikes, attacking and "destroying" four additional IS positions.

Turkish artillery units and tanks also attacked group in the region, the military statement added.

Turkey has deployed a number of troops in northern Iraq to help train Iraqi militia who are fighting the IS. In December, it sent more troops to the region, touching off tensions with Baghdad which opposed the additional Turkish deployment.

Turkish jets regularly cross into northern Iraq to strike at the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which is fighting Turkey for Kurdish autonomy.

Although it is part of the coalition against the IS, Turkey's actions against the extremist group have been largely limited to retaliatory strikes in response to IS attacks on Turkish targets.