“We will soon launch a comprehensive struggle against Islamic State together, now that we are already seeing American warplanes and unmanned drones arriving in Turkish air bases”, Mr. Cavusoglu told reporters during a visit to Malaysia after meeting his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
Before this week, Ankara had only permitted the United States to fly surveillance missions from Incirlik, forcing the United States to rely largely on more distant bases and cutting down on the time U.S. aircraft can spend over target areas.
Washington has long been pushing its historic ally Turkey to step up the fight against IS, something Ankara had until recently been reluctant to do.
Turkey, a member of the worldwide coalition led by its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Washington, had so far declined to take robust action against militants but after the July 20 deadly bombing in a border town blamed on suspected IS, it launched limited strikes against the group in Syria.
But those rebels have faced dramatic early setbacks: some are believed to have been captured by al Qaeda’s Syria wing, Nusra Front, and one is believed to have been killed last week.
On Friday, it issued a statement saying the fighters acted as US agents by helping to carry out airstrikes on jihadist and Islamist groups.
The U.S. and its allies, after several years of missteps, finally seem to be framing a strategy for combating the Islamic State militarily in Syria, even as they continue to pursue a political settlement with Damascus.
This was the first airstrike not against ISIL, and illustrated the hypothetical of U.S. air strikes against Syrian government forces.
“The United States contacted us before they sent in this group and said they are fighting against Da’esh [ISIS] and not the Syrian army at all”, he said.
The train-and-equip program, jointly organized by the U.S. and coalition partners is intended to help prepare Syrian opposition fighters in the campaign against Daesh.
Turkey shares an 800-kilometer (500-mile) border with Syria, and a section of its southern frontier abuts directly with territory controlled by the Islamic State group.
The Syrian conflict erupted in 2011 after Assad’s violent crackdown on Arab Spring protesters spiraled into street battles pitting the government against a fragmented series of moderate rebels and Islamic extremists.
Davis said the Pentagon remains committed to the program’s success, but when asked to characterize the initial deployment of rebels in Syria, he called it challenging but added that it was inaccurate to say the U.S. was caught “totally flat-footed by the idea of sending people into a very dynamic and rapidly changing war zone”.
But the city and province of Homs are major strategic pieces on the chess board for all sides, control of the center of Syria opens the route to the Mediterranean coast for the rebels and Islamic State.
“There are other countries within the coalition… interested in joining, such as Britain and France, while among the countries in the region, there is a possibility that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan will take part”, said Cavusoglu. But instead of fighting ISIS, they unexpectedly came under attack by al Nusra – a different radical Islamic group.