The US is now using a rocket system to strike the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria, the US official said on Saturday.
The US Defense Department confirmed that the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, was deployed in Turkey in August to boost US military efforts to degrade and dismantle ISIL facilities in Syria. The US has already been heavily using Incirlik Air Base for launching air strikes against the extremist group since last year.
The deployment of a short-range missile system has been a matter of discussion and negotiations between the Turkish and American officials for quite some time after ISIL began to hit Turkish border city of Kilis with rocket attacks. The US commanders confirmed months ago that Turkey requested from the US to deploy short or medium range missile system to ward off that threat.
“As a ground precision fires system, the additional US capability that HIMARS brings will assist coalition works to degrade, dismantle and militarily defeat ISIL,” spokesman Maj. Ben Sakrisson said in a statement, according to a report in official Anadolu news agency.
The system has a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles), the Anadolu said..
The deployment comes as Turkey intervened in Syria to clean its border of ISIL elements. The US supports Turkish action as long as it is focused on combatting ISIL, the Pentagon said last month.
President Barack Obama’s envoy to the coalition, Brett McGurk, said in a tweet that the US hit ISIL targets overnight Friday with the newly deployed system.