Middle East

Turkish jets attack IS Syria targets

A Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands at Incirlik air base in Adana, Turkey, August 11, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Turkish jets are attacking IS targets from an air base near Adana

Turkey has carried out its first air strikes as part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group.

Turkey's foreign ministry said its jets began attacking IS targets across the border in Syria late on Friday.

Turkey has stepped up its operations against the militant group in recent weeks, granting US jets access to a key air base close to the Syrian border.

The US began operating from Turkey earlier this month with a series of drone strikes from Incirlik airbase.

"Our fighter aircraft together with warplanes belonging to the coalition began as of yesterday evening to jointly carry out air operations against Daesh targets that constitute a threat against the security of our country," the foreign ministry said in a statement, using a pejorative term for IS.

"The fight against the terrorist organization is a priority for Turkey," the statement added.

Turkey's increased involvement in the war on IS began in July in the wake of a suspected IS bomb attack in the Turkish town of Suruc which killed 32 people.

Turkish warplanes attacked IS targets in Syria on 24 July, but not as part of the coalition operation.

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Media captionThe significance of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey

The new strikes follow a co-operation agreement between Turkey and the US, which calls for Turkey to be fully integrated into the coalition air campaign.

The precise targets of the new Turkish strikes have not been revealed.

On Thursday, IS militants seized five villages from rebel groups in northern Syria as they advanced towards the strategic town of Marea near the Turkish border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other groups said IS carried out a suicide bombing on the outskirts of Marea amid fierce fighting in the area.

The IS advance was in the northern Aleppo province near where Turkey and the United States have agreed to establish an IS-free safe zone.