MIDEAST >Turkish army resumes anti-ISIL air strikes in Syria after talks with Russia, US

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA

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Turkish warplanes hit Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets to the west of Syria’s Salva town late on Nov. 11, resuming flights in Syrian airspace after more than two weeks of suspension. 

Eighteen members of ISIL were killed in strikes targeting two buildings, two command centers and a vehicle of the group, according to security sources who asked to remain anonymous. 

The resumption of flights by the Turkish Air Force in Syria came after a consensus between Ankara and Moscow during a meeting of Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar in Russia on Nov. 1, sources told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

A Free Syrian Army (FSA) offensive on al-Bab, with the backing of the Turkish military, was slowed down after a Syrian warning about the use of its airspace on Oct. 26. Since then, neither Turkish nor other U.S.-led coalition planes have been able to operate in the region because of Russian-made Syrian air defense. 

“The Americans had concerns about agitating the Syrian regime or Russia. But they agreed to work on the planning, and hopefully they will give the air support we have requested within a week for al-Bab,” another source earlier told the Daily News after a meeting between Gen. Akar and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Ankara on Nov. 6.

Akar informed Dunford about his talks with the Russian Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov on Nov. 1 in Moscow, where the Turks assured the Russians that the al-Bab operation would not threaten the outskirts of Aleppo and would be limited to taking the town and other areas around it from ISIL.

The Turkish Air Force launched its last air strike in Syria on Oct. 22, targeting ISIL positions. Since then, Turkey could not launch further strikes as Syria’s Russian-made air defense system was activated to cover the region under the Euphrates Shield operation.

November/12/2016

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