British fighter planes have carried out their first sorties against the ISIS terrorist group in Syria. But in Iraq, the government has a message for Turkish forces who say they are fighting ISIS as well.
The British Ministry of Defense said its Typhoon and Tornado jets had carried out a series of airstrikes on the ISIS-controlled oilfield at Omar, in eastern Syria. The ministry’s statement said the jets used Paveway IV guided bombs to hit wellheads as they conducted eight strikes Friday evening.
In an updated statement Saturday, the ministry said Typhoon and Tornado jets based at Akrotiri, a Royal Air Force Base on the Mediterranean Island of Cyprus, had carried out more strikes on the “very large” Omar oilfield.
The smart bombs were guided to hit wellheads to cut off ISIS’ oil revenue, the ministry statement said.
“Eight attacks were carried out, and early reports suggest that they were successful,” the ministry statement said. “Our aircraft then remained on patrol to collect intelligence on possible terrorist positions and be ready to strike any further targets that might be identified in eastern Syria or western Iraq.”
In Iraq, President Fuad Masum said in a statement that Turkey violated international laws when its military entered the country.
“We call on the Turkish authorities to withdraw its military force from Iraqi territories and not repeating such an incident that hurt the relations between the two neighboring countries,” Masum said.
The Turkish forces have been helping train Sunni former Iraqi police officers and Sunni former Iraqi soldiers, who fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, to fight ISIS.
In a statement on the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Facebook page, Iraq called on Turkey to withdraw immediately from the Iraqi territory. The statement said the Turkish troops, accompanied by tanks and weaponry, had entered the country without authorization from Iraqi authorities.
In a statement on the website of the Prime Minister, he said that his country must be ready to defend Iraq and its sovereignty and that the nation’s air force has the capacity and capability to protect its borders.
According to state broadcaster TRT, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Turkey has a duty to protect its soldiers around the Iraqi city of Mosul, which is under the control of ISIS.
Cavusoglu stressed that Turkish soldiers were in Iraq simply to train and advise Iraqi forces, and that the Turkish military has been operating in the region in line with the request and knowledge of the Iraqi government from the very beginning.
“It is our duty to provide security for our soldiers who give training there,” Cavusoglu said.
But Turkey will halt sending troops to Iraq, the country’s semi-official Anadolu Agency reported over the weekend, citing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Davutoglu informed his Iraqi counterpart through a letter that Turkey would not take any steps to damage Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Until the Iraqi governments sensitivities are fulfilled, dispatch of forces to Bashiqa will not take place,” Davutoglu reportedly said.
He also expressed that Turkey would continue to support Iraq’s fight against ISIS.
Turkish soldiers were sent to the Mosul region two and a half years ago to train Iraqi Peshmerga forces, Kurdish fighters in the region.