Middle East

Turkish air force to join anti-IS campaign

A Turkish fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Turkey has been accused of not doing enough in the fight against IS and concentrating airstrikes on Kurdish fighters instead

The US and Turkey have reached an agreement which will see Turkish jets join the air campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants.

American officials hailed the agreement as "a significant step forward" in the fight against IS.

Turkey is already allowing US planes to operate from two Turkish airbases.

Turkey has already conducted a handful of strikes against IS, but it will now be fully integrated into the strategy of the wider anti-IS coalition.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said it would probably take "a few days'' to put the agreement into practice.

He added that "co-operation with the Turks and the expansion of that co-operation remains a work in progress" and that talks were continuing with Turkey "with regard to border issues".

Last month Turkey launched its first strikes on IS militants since the group began its advance through Iraq and Syria in 2013.

It had previously been reluctant to take military action, but that position changed after a number of attacks within Turkey that were blamed on IS.

However, Turkey has been targeting militants from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq as well as Islamic State militants.

Observers say PKK fighters have been on the receiving end of far more attacks than IS.

Turkish officials deny that the campaign against the Islamic State group is a cover to prevent Kurdish gains.

The government has previously faced criticism at home and abroad for not doing enough against IS, despite being part of the international coalition fighting it.