U.S. starts armed drone flights from Turkey over Syria; manned aircraft next

AP

The Pentagon says the military for the first time conducted armed drone missions out of Turkey last weekend, and is planning to conduct manned aircraft flights from Incirlik Air Base.

Capt. Jeff Davis says so far none of the drones launched airstrikes. He says the U.S. also will likely fly search and rescue missions from the base.

The use of the Incirlik base comes as the U.S. expanded its combat in Syria, launching airstrikes Friday to defend rebels under attack by the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria.

Davis says this is the first time the U.S. conducted defensive strikes against anyone other than Islamic State militants in Syria. Under current rules, the U.S. can conduct offensive strikes against the Islamic State, not Assad regime forces or others.