Turkey stages first airstrikes on ISIS while rounding up Kurds

By REUTERS
July 24, 2015 17:58

Turkish warplanes pounded Islamic State targets in Syria for the first time on Friday, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promising more decisive action against both the jihadists and Kurdish militants at home.

The air strikes, which followed a phone conversation between Erdogan and US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, were accompanied by a series of police raids across Turkey to detain hundreds of suspected militants, including from Kurdish groups.

Turkey has long been a reluctant partner in the US-led coalition against Islamic State, emphasizing instead the need to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad and saying Syrian Kurdish forces also pose a grave security threat.

But Friday's attacks, which officials said were launched from Turkish airspace, signaled that Ankara would crack down against Islamic State across the Syrian border, while pursuing the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) - which Ankara describes as a separatist organization - at home.

"In our phone call with Obama, we reiterated our determination in the struggle against the separatist organization and the Islamic State," Erdogan told reporters. "We took the first step last night."


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