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Turkey Jets Join Coalition Against IS  08/29 09:42

   Turkey announced Saturday that its fighter jets have carried out their first 
airstrikes as part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in 
Syria.

   ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey announced Saturday that its fighter jets have 
carried out their first airstrikes as part of the U.S.-led coalition against 
the Islamic State group in Syria.

   A Foreign Ministry statement said the jets began attacking IS targets late 
Friday across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey.

   After months of hesitance, Turkey agreed last month to take on a more active 
role in the fight against IS. Turkish jets used smart bombs to attack IS 
positions in Syria, without crossing into Syrian airspace and later Turkey 
granted U.S. jets access to a key air base close to the Syrian border.

   The Turkish attacks that began Friday were the first launched as part of the 
U.S.-led campaign and came after Turkish and U.S. officials announced they had 
reached a technical agreement concerning their cooperation, which calls for 
Turkey to be fully integrated into the coalition air campaign.

   "Our fighter aircraft together with warplanes belonging to the coalition 
began as of yesterday evening to jointly carry out air operations against Daesh 
targets that constitute a threat against the security of our country," the 
Foreign Ministry said, using the Arabic acronym for IS. "The fight against the 
terrorist organization is a priority for Turkey."

   The statement did not give more details on the targets.

   On Thursday, IS militants seized five villages from rebel groups in northern 
Syria as they advanced toward the strategic town of Marea near the Turkish 
border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other groups said IS 
carried out a suicide bombing on the outskirts of Marea amid fierce fighting in 
the area.

   The IS advance was in the northern Aleppo province near where Turkey and the 
United States have agreed to establish an IS-free safe zone.


(KA)


 
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