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Middle East - US launches first manned strikes on IS group from Turkey

The U.S. on Wednesday August  12  launched its first airstrikes by Turkey-based F-16 fighter jets against Islamic State targets in Syria, marking a limited escalation of a yearlong air campaign that critics have called excessively cautious.

In a brief statement the Pentagon announced the F-16 strikes were launched from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey but provided no details on the number or types of targets struck. It did not say how many of the six F-16s now based at Incirlik were used in the initial strikes.

Earlier this month the U.S. began flying armed drones from Incirlik, but the F-16 flights add a new dimension to the air campaign, in part because of the added risk to pilots who might encounter Syrian or other air defenses.

Pentagon officials have said the main advantage of using Incirlik is its proximity to Islamic State targets in northern Syria, although a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday that the F-16s may also be used on missions over Iraq. The official was not authorized to discuss F-16 mission details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most U.S. aerial combat missions over Iraq and Syria are being flown from more distant air bases in Qatar and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region, although the U.S. also is flying F-16s from Muwaffaq Salti air base in Jordan.

Read more: Middle East - US launches first manned strikes on IS group from Turkey - France 24

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