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US hits IS targets along Syria border with 'newly deployed' mobile rocket

US Army claims using HIMARS for striking targets reduces 'potential collateral damage'
High Mobility Artillery Rocket System of US Marines in live-fire exercise earlier this year (AFP/file photo)

US forces have hit Islamic State (IS) group targets along Syria's border with Turkey using a "newly deployed" mobile rocket system, American officials said on Saturday.

A US Army High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) carried out a successful strike on Friday on a tactical unit and building belonging to the IS group, Major Josh Jacques, a spokesman for US Central Command, told AFP. US President Barack Obama's anti-Islamic State envoy Brett McGurk said on Twitter US forces hit the militant targets with the "newly deployed" system.

The detachment, which allows the US to strike a target "with a high degree of accuracy and a significantly greater range," was deployed to Turkey in support of the US-led anti-IS mission, Jacques said.

"HIMARS is unique in reducing the potential collateral damage as it impacts a target at a high angle, has a relatively small blast radius for the effect achieved, and functions in all weather conditions," he said.

The US embassy in Ankara posted on Twitter that it was the "latest step in US-Turkey cooperation in the fight against ISIL (IS)".

Turkey has struggled to protect the area around Kilis from IS rocket fire. Three rockets fired from northern Syria hit the region on Saturday, Dogan news agency reported, adding there were no casualties.

HIMARS has been used over several years in previous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The weapon system is incorporated into our normal deliberate ‎targeting cycle and has been for quite some time," Jacques said.

"Precision strikes conducted by HIMARS are similar to the [US-led anti-IS] coalition's precision airstrikes; HIMARS is a complementary asset and involves US troops operating artillery from the soil of a NATO ally," he said.

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