Turkey wants coalition help at Syrian border as Islamic State rockets pummel town

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey may call on the U.S.-led coalition to take stronger action in its fight against Islamic State along its border with Syria, Turkish officials said on Tuesday, as the border town of Kilis came under rocket fire for a second straight day.

Turkish forces returned fire into an Islamic State-controlled region of Syria after three rockets hit Kilis, a security official said. No one was killed.

Mayor Hasan Kara told Reuters that three people were lightly wounded in the attack, one of them a Syrian national. On Monday four people were killed when five rockets landed in the town, including one that hit a teachers’ dormitory.

As part of the U.S.-led coalition, NATO member Turkey is fighting Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

Separately on Tuesday, Turkish armed forces retaliated after a Turkish tank was hit by an Islamic State missile at the Bashiqa military camp in northern Iraq, where Turkish soldiers are training local forces to fight the insurgents.

CNN Turk said 32 Islamic State militants were killed.

Kilis has been hit by repeated rocket fire in recent weeks. The army has usually responded with artillery fire into Syria.

Last week more than 20 people were wounded in three straight days of rocket salvoes toward the town, where an estimated 110,000 Syrian refugees are housed.

“The terrorists, who staged the attacks, are mobile. They come to the border with motorcycles and fire rockets from there. It is not easy to hit moving targets,” one senior security official said.

“The coalition is called in and they hit those targets from time to time. From now on, the coalition could be asked to hit those moving targets preemptively, this is something we are thinking about.”

Part of the problem for Turkey is the sheer difficulty of using artillery against mobile opponents, an army official said.

“It is extremely hard to hit moving targets with a howitzer,” the official said.

Since January, the military has hit 146 Islamic State targets across the border from Kilis, the Turkish defense minister said last week, with an estimated 362 militants killed and 123 wounded.

“From now on, we want to destroy them preemptively, without waiting for the rules of engagement,” a senior government official said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Donald Tusk, is expected to visit the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep this weekend, which is also near the Syrian border.

They are not expected to visit Kilis, the senior government official said.

Additional reporting by Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir and Akin Aytekin in Istanbul; Writing by David Dolan and Seda Sezer; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Raissa Kasolowsky