US, Turkey agree on air campaign against Daesh
Deal is ‘significant step forward’, say Pentagon

Turkey and the U.S. have finalized a deal on Turkey’s involvement in air campaigns against Daesh, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday.

"This includes full integration into the coalition's air tasking order, which tracks, coordinates, and de-conflicts all coalition air operations,” according to spokesman Peter Cook.

Comments by the recently appointed Cook came just hours after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s said the agreement details a wide, comprehensive operation against Daesh as well as works toward the creation of a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Calling the agreement "a significant step forward”, Cook said it could take a few days to put the arrangements into place at the operational level.

"As you know, Turkey is already allowing the use of Turkish bases for U.S. strikes and supporting aircraft. That's been a very important force multiplier, as we expect it will continue to compliment our efforts to pressure ISIL on a number of fronts,” he added.

Late last month, Turkey said it would open the Incirlik Air Base in southern Adana province for use by coalition aircraft. In early August the coalition began launching operations from the air base that targeted Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish jets have in the last few weeks also conducted several airstrikes on Daesh targets inside Syria, while Turkish police have conducted house raids against suspects linked to the terror group.

Cook said the U.S. and Turkey are evaluating other options for countering Daesh, which include security measures along Turkey’s borders. It’s unclear, however, if those may include the establishment of a safe zone that Turkey has long sought.

Responding to a question about the Turkish foreign minister’s comments that the deal works to a safe zone, Cook said only that military leaders have discussed expanded cooperation, including securing the border.

The U.S. has been reluctant to create a safe zone inside Syrian that runs along the Turkish border.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that there are no plans for a safe zone or a no-fly zone and that coalition would target only Deash militants inside Syria.

"Right now, they tend to be up in that stretch along the northern border of Syria, southern border of Turkey, roughly west of the Euphrates," he said. "We're going to continue to focus on them where they are," he added.

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Last Modified: 2015-08-26 06:58:24
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