ANKARA: Turkish fighter jets have carried out their first airstrikes as part of the U.S.-led coalition against the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, Turkey announced on Saturday.
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 granted US 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 US-led campaign and came after Turkish and US officials announced that they had reached an agreement “on the procedures and technical details” of their cooperation, which calls for Turkey to be fully integrated into the coalition air campaign.
“Our fighter aircrafts together with warplanes belonging to the coalition began as of yesterday evening to jointly carry out air operations against IS targets that also constitute a threat against the security of our country,” the Foreign Ministry said.
However, the statement did not provide further details on the targets or how many jets were involved.
“The fight against the terrorist organisation is a priority for Turkey.“
Turkey s state-run Anadolu Agency, reporting from Aleppo and citing unnamed local sources, said the coalition forces have raided IS targets in the IS-held town of Manbij in Aleppo province.
It said the raids destroyed IS positions but there was no information on any casualties.
IS detains 70 in Iraq after rare street protest
IS militants detained at least 70 people in a remote western Iraqi town on Saturday following a rare street demonstration protesting the extremist group s execution of a local resident, security officials said.
They said the protest by hundreds of residents in Rutbah, in Anbar province, was triggered by the execution earlier on Saturday of Munir al-Kobeisi, a civil servant, for killing a member of the extremist group. The killing was part of a long-running blood feud between two local clans.
Eid Amash, a spokesman for Anbar s provincial government, confirmed al-Kobeisi s execution and the subsequent protest. Officials said they did not know the whereabouts of the detained residents.
Elsewhere in Anbar, much of which is under IS control, a roadside bomb on Saturday hit a border guard convoy making its way to the border crossing of Trebil on the Jordanian border, security officials said.
Five officers were killed in the attack, which bore the hallmarks of the IS group, whose militants are active in the area near the Jordanian and Syrian borders in western Iraq.
The officials also said a pair of roadside bombs killed five people and injured 19 south and west of Baghdad on Saturday.
Also in the capital, assailants using pistols fitted with silencers killed two people in the Jihad neighborhood of western Baghdad before they fled in a car. Other details were not immediately available.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorised to speak to media.
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 militant advance was in the northern Aleppo province near where Turkey and the United States have been discussing establishing an IS-free safe zone.
Turkey s deeper involvement in the coalition came after a suicide bombing in July, blamed on IS, killed 33 people in the Turkish border city of Suruc near Syria, and an attack on Turkish troops guarding the border, which killed one soldier.
Earlier this month, US F-16 jets launched their first airstrikes from the Turkish air base of Incirlik – just a short distance from targets in northern Syria. The US had also began flying armed drones from Incirlik, which is just a short distance from targets in northern Syria.