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Turkey Agrees to Begin Airstrikes Against ISIL

 

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook announced today that Turkey will launch airstrikes and carry out other air operations in full coordination with the coalition fighting ISIL.

“The United States and Turkey have finalized technical details for Turkey’s full inclusion in the counter-ISIL coalition operations. This includes full integration into the coalition’s air tasking order, which tracks, coordinates, and deconflicts all coalition air operations,” Cook said during a briefing with reporters today at the Pentagon.

“It could take a few days to put these technical arrangements into place at the operational level. We believe that Turkey is committed to fully participating as soon as possible,” he said.

Turkey recently allowed U.S. Air Force F-16s and support personnel to begin carrying out anti-ISIL airstrikes from Incirlik Air Base. Whether U.S. or coalition aircraft will be allowed to operate from other Turkish air bases remains an open question and under negotiation. In the meantime, the details of inserting Turkish aircraft into the air tasking order are being finalized, according to Cook.

“It could take a few days to put these technical arrangements into place at the operational level. We believe that Turkey is committed to fully participating as soon as possible,” he said.

“Turkey is a NATO ally, close friend of the United States, and an important partner in the international coalition against ISIL,” Cook continued. “As you know, Turkey is already allowing the use of Turkish bases for U.S. strike 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.”

While involving Turkey in airstrikes against ISIL had been a goal of U.S. negotiators for some time, another issue is a push for a stronger Turkish effort to seal a portion of the border between Turkey and Syria.

“Beyond air operations we continue our dialog with Turkey to evaluate options on the most effective means of countering ISIL, including along its borders in a manner that promotes Turkey’s security and regional stability,” Cook said.