US to deploy mobile rocket system in Turkey near Syrian border

The United States will deploy a mobile rocket system in Turkey along the Syrian border beginning in May to assist in the fight against Islamic State, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolgu said Tuesday.

US defence official Colonel Steve Warren confirmed the HIMARS - High Mobility Artillery Rocket System - deployment to dpa.

Cavusolgu made the remarks during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, according to pro-government Haberturk newspaper.

The HIMARS system has a longer range than systems that the Turkish military possesses and would be a more effective weapon against Islamic State militants in neighboring Syria.

Cavusoglu did not say exactly where and when the deployment will occur, which was echoed by a US general in Baghdad.

"We will be bringing a system into Turkey, with the coordination of the Turkish government, our great partners," US Air Force General Peter Gersten said Tuesday in Baghdad.

"I will keep the operational security of its location, how many and how we're going to use them to a classified level. So, rest assured that our strong partners in Turkey against this fight against [Islamic State] are absolutely fully involved in the operation as it goes forward."

"It's a mobile system, very agile, and we'll put it where we need," Gersten said.

"The HIMARS is simply one of many systems that the coalition is bringing to fight this enemy. We have fighters, we have remotely piloted aircraft, we have cyber, and now we have HIMARS," Gersten said.

In recent months the Turkish border town of Kilis has been subject to repeated rocket attack, presumably from Islamic State. Whether Turkey was purposely targeted or hit accidentally is not clear, said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Cavusoglu says Turkey's aim is to "clean out" the region north of Aleppo.

The DHA news agency reported Tuesday that the Turkish army shelled Islamic State positions in Syria from Turkey, killing 11 militants and destroying a house they had used.

Last update: Tue, 28/06/2016 - 17:25
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