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Turkish Jets Join US-Led Coalition With Airstrikes Against IS


FILE - A missile-loaded Turkish Air Force jet after taking off from Incirlik Air Base, in Adana, southern Turkey, July 29, 2015.

Turkish 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 Saturday.

The aircraft began attacking IS targets late Friday across the border in Syria that were deemed to be threats to Turkey.

After months of delay, Turkey agreed last month to take on a more active role in the fight against Islamic State extremists. 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.

"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.

In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States "commends" Turkey for its participation in coalition operations against IS.

The Turkish attacks 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.