In recent weeks, Erdogan also has highlighted the advance of the Kurdish YPG militia as a greater threat than the Islamic State to Turkey’s national security.
“This is not an operation limited to only tonight, and it will continue in a determined way in the coming period, too”, he said.
The Hurriyet daily said that the accord was finalised in telephone talks Wednesday between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Barack Obama.
Depending on how you interpret the late-night July 24 Turkish airstrike on ISIL positions along the border, the answer could be yes (Turkey, after all, hasn’t used its Air Force to bomb ISIL at all prior to that operation).
Yesterday, one Turkish soldier was killed and two sergeants wounded on Thursday in the Kilis region by fire from Isis militants on the Syrian side of the border. Didier Billion from the Institute for global and Strategic Affairs in Paris said the air strikes “mean that Turkey is really joining” a coalition, of which it had only been a nominal member until now.
The intensified violence involving Turkey comes after one of the deadliest terror attacks to happen in the country in years – a suicide bombing that killed at least 31 people Monday in Suruc, a Turkish town that borders Syria.
The risk of seeing the Kurds in Syria take advantage of the new situation, however, could complicate the issue for Turkey and the police raids against IS networks in Turkey on Friday were accompanied by arrests of Kurdish militants and Marxist radicals.
Ege Seckin, an analyst with IHS Country Risk, said the change in Turkey’s approach was significant.
Two police had been shot dead in southeast Turkey close to the Syrian border on Wednesday, in an attack claimed by the PKK s military wing which said it wanted to avenge the Suruc bombing.
Those raids bombed three targets controlled by Islamic State (IS) jihadists up to 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) inside Syrian territory, the official Anatolia news agency reported. It has also downed several Syrian aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters, which allegedly violated Turkish airspace. Cagoptay says this “open door policy” was meant to allow all fighters who want to oust President Bashar al-Assad into Syria. That would include air fields such as the one in Diyarbakir, southeast Turkey, from where it dispatched the F-16 fighters for the attack in Syria. Bassem Mroue in Beirut and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed. He did not elaborate on the agreement, which a U.S. official said was reached during a phone call this week with President Barak Obama. He declined to say when the missions will begin.
The Syrian government has so far refrained from commenting on Turkish strikes inside Syrian territory, but Syria’s main political opposition group, which is backed by Ankara, welcomed Turkey’s move. “So, we’re looking at options”, he said. Turkey’s government confirmed the reports Friday, stating that “Turkey and the US have decided to further deepen their ongoing cooperation in the fight” against ISIS.