Turkey has carried out its first airstrikes as a member of the U.S.-led coalition aimed at the Islamic State group in Syria, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The previous evening, Turkish jets began attacking Islamic State targets considered to be threats to Turkey across its border with Syria, according to AP, which cited a statement by the foreign ministry in Ankara.
“Our jets started last night to carry out air operations with coalition forces against [Islamic State] targets in Syria which pose a threat to our security, too,” Reuters quoted the foreign ministry as saying in its statement.
“Our fighter aircraft together with warplanes belonging to the coalition began as of yesterday evening to jointly carry out air operations against [Islamic State] targets that constitute a threat against the security of our country,” the foreign ministry said. “The fight against the terrorist organization is a priority for Turkey.”
Turkey and the U.S. completed an agreement this week enabling the Middle Eastern country to start striking at targets in Iraq and Syria associated with the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
“Turkey’s a NATO ally, a close friend of the United States and an important partner in the international coalition against ISIL,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said then. “Turkey’s already allowing the use of Turkish bases for U.S. strike and supporting aircraft.”
The agreement completes details of what is known as an “air tasking order,” which coordinates all coalition air operations, Cook said.
Turkey’s airstrikes came after the Islamic State group seized five villages from other Syrian rebels in northern Syria this week, seizures reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Thursday.
Turkey joined the U.S.-led military effort against the Islamic State group in late July after a suicide blast blamed by Turkish authorities on the militant group killed more than 30 people on its border with Syria.