Russia, Turkey Conduct First Joint Air Strikes Against IS In Syria
Russia says it has conducted its first joint air strikes with Turkey against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria, operations signaling the improving ties between the two nations that back opposing sides in the Syria conflict.
Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, a Russian Defense Ministry official, said nine of its planes and eight Turkish planes carried out air strikes on IS militants in the town of Al-Bab in the Aleppo region of northern Syria on January 18.
“Today the Russian and Turkish air forces are conducting their first joint air operation to strike Islamic State in the suburbs of Al-Bab,” Rudskoi said.
Turkey’s military confirmed that the two nations’ warplanes had carried out coordinated strikes in the area.
Ties between Moscow and Ankara deteriorated after a Turkish fighter shot down a Russian warplane near Turkey’s border with Syria in 2015.
The two sides, however, are now spearheading peace talks due to begin next week in Kazakhstan between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and armed opposition groups.
Russia is backing Assad in the conflict, while Turkey supports rebel groups that seek to oust the Syrian president’s regime.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.