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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

'Neo Ottoman Conqueror' Turkey to Start Fight against IS in Syria 'Soon' : FM.

'Neo Ottoman Conqueror' Turkey to Start Fight against IS in Syria 'Soon' : FM. (NHN).

Turkey on Wednesday announced that it was ready to begin a "comprehensive" fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria alongside the United States, after a months of staying on the sidelines of the U.S.-led coalition.

Ankara, long criticized for failing to stop the flow of jihadists to-and-fro across its border with Syria, has so far concentrated an almost two-week "anti-terror" campaign on the bombing of Kurdish militants.

But Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated that Turkey would be stepping up its campaign against IS jihadists after it gave permission for U.S. forces to conduct armed missions from its Incirlik air base.

"As part of an agreement with the United States, we have technically made progress concerning the use of Incirlik base," Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the official Anatolia news agency after meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Malaysia.

"The U.S. planes have begun arriving and soon we will launch a comprehensive fight against Daesh all together," he said, using a pejorative Arabic acronym for IS.

Ankara is waging a two-pronged bombing campaign against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels as well as IS militants, following a wave of violence inside Turkey.

But so far the raids have overwhelmingly targeted the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey, to the dismay of those who want to see Ankara play a fuller role in the US-led coalition against IS.

Cavusoglu said at the start of the meeting with Kerry that the operation would be helped by moderate Syrian rebels that the U.S. and Turkey are hoping to jointly train.

"Now we are training and equipping the moderate (Syrian) opposition together with the United States, and we will also start our fight against Daesh very effectively soon," Cavusoglu said.

"Then the ground will be safer for the moderate opposition that are fighting Daesh."

The two top diplomats met at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the sidelines of a regional security gathering hosted by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Washington has long been pushing its historic ally Turkey to step up the fight against IS, something Ankara had until recently been reluctant to do.

Kerry "welcomed Turkey's recent decision to open its bases to U.S. participation in air operations against (the militants) and its support for Syrian refugees," a senior State Department official told reporters after the meeting.

Last month Ankara said it would allow U.S. warplanes to launch attacks from the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, which is just 200 kilometers (124 miles) from IS positions in northern Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said the formation of a safe zone inside Syria, free from threats, would help return some of the 1.8 million refugees Turkey is hosting.

Cavusoglu on Wednesday said the regions cleared of IS militants would automatically turn into a "natural safe zone" which would be filled by moderate rebels. Read the full story here.

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