Turkish warplanes bombed ISIS positions in Syria for the first time early Friday, escalating the conflict in the region a day after members of the terrorist group killed a Turkish soldier in a border clash.
Three F-16s took off from an air base in southeastern Turkey and struck three ISIS targets just inside Syria, Turkish authorities said.
Turkey’s decision to attack ISIS positions was taken during a national security meeting Thursday headed by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
It followed the firefight earlier Thursday in which at least five ISIS militants in northern Syria approached the border and fired on a Turkish border unit, killing one of the soldiers and wounding two others, according to the Turkish military.
Turkey initially responded to the clash by firing artillery into Syria.
The Turkish military has targeted positions in Syria before but only as a response to incoming fire from the Syrian side of the border. This is the first time Turkey has used its warplanes to attack ISIS positions.
The airstrikes Friday hit two ISIS bases and a gathering point, the Turkish Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.
The targets were chosen based on intelligence reports suggesting a buildup of weapons and explosives in the area, a Turkish official told CNN on condition of anonymity.
The fighter jets have completed their mission for now, but the Turkish official didn’t rule out the possibility of further airstrikes.
“We are committed to eliminating the national security threat,” the official said.
There is a longstanding resolution that has been passed by the Turkish parliament permitting military action against Syria.
The airstrikes on ISIS came after news emerged of a tentative deal to increase U.S. and coalition access to Turkish air bases. The deal could provide the U.S. military with crucial access from Turkey into Syria and Iraq that it has long wanted for the campaign against ISIS.
The intensified violence involving Turkey comes after one of the deadliest terror attacks to happen in the country in years — a suicide bombing that killed at least 31 people Monday in Suruc, a Turkish town that borders Syria.
The blast struck a gathering of mostly Kurdish activists calling for more help to rebuild Kobani, the Syrian city that was the scene of intense fighting last fall between ISIS and predominantly Kurdish forces.
Davutoglu told reporters Tuesday that early indications pointed to involvement by ISIS in the Suruc bombing, though an investigation hadn’t been completed.
Turkish authorities said Friday that they had launched a massive operation against terrorism suspects, arresting 251 people in 13 different provinces.
Those arrested were members of organizations including ISIS and the Kurdish militant group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Turkish government said in a statement.