Turkey, US conclude talks on anti-IS operation plan

AP News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 4:19 PM

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish and U.S. officials have concluded "technical talks" over their cooperation on operations against the Islamic State group, Turkey's foreign minister said Tuesday.

Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters that Turkish and U.S. military officials had sealed an agreement concerning "the procedures and technical details" of their operations. He didn't provide details, but he has said an extensive, coordinated operation against the militant group would start soon.

"The military authorities have signed off," Cavusoglu said.

Ending months of reluctance, Turkey last month took on a more front line role in the fight against IS. It has carried out raids against IS targets in Syria and is allowing a key air base close to the Syrian border to be used in the U.S.-led campaign against the extremists.

The move follows a suicide bombing in July, blamed on IS, which 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.

U.S. F-16 jets launched their first airstrikes from the Turkish air base Incirlik this month, hitting one or more IS targets. Earlier, the U.S. also began flying armed drones from Incirlik, which is just a short distance from targets in northern Syria.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday that the agreement calls for Turkey to be fully integrated into the coalition air campaign.

He said Turkey is "committed to fully participating" in military operations against IS, but that the agreement does not include specific new steps by Turkey to control its borders with Iraq and Syria. He said cooperation on that is "a work in progress."

He added it would likely take "a few days" to put the technical agreement into practice.

U.S. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier that Turkish and U.S. officials have been engaged in talks on deepening cooperation on implementing a "strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy" IS.

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Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.