ISTANBUL/BEIRUT – Turkey said on Wednesday a US-led coalition will soon launch a “comprehensive battle” against Islamic State militants from Turkish air bases, but Syria said any military action not coordinated with Damascus would breach its sovereignty.
NATO-member Turkey formally agreed to open its air bases to US and coalition aircraft last month, a major policy change after years of reluctance in taking a frontline role against the Islamist fighters pressing on its borders. Ankara and Washington have been working on plans to provide air cover for a group of US-trained Syrian rebels and jointly sweep Islamic State from a strip of territory stretching about 80 km (50 miles) along the Turkish frontier. “As part of our agreement with the US we have made progress regarding the opening up of our bases, particularly Incirlik,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT, referring to a major air base near the southern city of Adana. “We’re seeing that manned and unmanned American planes are arriving and soon we will launch a comprehensive battle against Islamic State all together,” he said during a trip to Malaysia.