Russia, Turkey hit ISIL in first joint air operation in Syria’s al-Bab: Report
MOSCOWRussian and Turkish warplanes hit Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in al-Bab on Jan. 18 in what is the first such joint operation featuring both countries’ air forces, the Russian Interfax news agency has reported.
The chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, Sergey Rudskoy, said nine Russian aircraft, consisting of four Su-24Ms, four Su-25s and one bomber Su-34, as well as eight Turkish fighter jets, four F-16s and four F-4s, participated in the first joint air strike.
While this is the first time the two countries have conducted strikes in Syria, Russia previously struck ISIL in Syria in the past month.
Turkey launched its ongoing Euphrates Shield operation on Aug. 24, 2016, to clear its border with Syria of terror groups which include ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the fighters from its military wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which it sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting within Turkey.
The action comes one day after the U.S. military said on Jan. 17 that it had carried out air strikes in Syria against ISIL targets of interest to both Washington and Ankara near the town of al-Bab, following Turkish criticism of insufficient U.S. support for its ground offensive.
Turkey has been angered by U.S. policy in Syria, particularly Washington’s support for the PYD and YPG.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition battling ISIL, counted four strikes in recent days against the jihadists’ targets that he said were in both countries’ “mutual interest.”
“We saw a window of opportunity where it was in our mutual interest to get those targets destroyed,” Reuters quoted Dorrian as saying, adding that the targets were identified by working with Turkey.
"They included an armored personnel carrier and ISIL tactical units," he said.
“This is something we expect to continue doing. We strike [ISIL] targets anywhere in Syria or Iraq that they can be found,” Dorrian told reporters at the Pentagon.