Turkey, US Ready to Begin Anti-ISIS Mission

Turkey is ready to begin operations against Islamic State (IS) jihadists together with its NATO ally the United States after a brief "pause" for coordination purposes, a Turkish foreign ministry official said on Wednesday.

Ankara launched its first air strikes against ISIS targets in late July but then put them on hold, instead concentrating its firepower on Kurdish militants. 

But according to the Turkish official the anti-ISIS operations had been put on hold at Washington's request so that the strikes against the jihadists could be carried out jointly.

"Turkey and the United States will coordinate operations," the official said speaking on condition of anonymity. "From our perspective, there has been a pause right now as Americans asked to wait for coordination purposes."

Last month, Turkey agreed to open up its Incirlik air base in southern part of the country to coalition planes for bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

The landmark deal followed months of tough negotiations, as US officials sought to overcome Ankara's reluctance to take robust action in the anti-ISIS coalition.

"The (US) planes are arriving at (Incirlik), which is an indicator of the fact that the agreement reached with the United States is working," the official said.

"More planes will arrive. The number will increase in the coming period," the source added. 

Brett McGurk, deputy US envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he was in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials "to advance our joint cooperation" against the jihadists.

The Turkish official also insisted Ankara and Washington were in agreement on the creation of a so-called safe zone in Syria which would be clear of both ISIS and Syrian Kurdish fighters.

AFP contributed to this report.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/199373

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