Russia and Turkey on Wednesday staged their first joint air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, the Russian defence ministry said.
Nine Russian and eight Turkish planes took part in the “first joint air operation” in the area around the town of Al-Bab in the Aleppo region, Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi told a briefing.
The announcement came less than a week after Russia said Moscow and Ankara had signed an agreement spelling out mechanisms to coordinate their air forces in Syria when conducting strikes “on terrorist targets”.
Rudskoi said that “36 targets” had been destroyed. He said Syrian authorities had agreed to the operation that he hailed as “highly effective.”
Russia, Turkey and Iran are organising Syria peace talks that begin in the Kazakh capital Astana on Monday in a bid to bolster a frail truce brokered by Moscow and Ankara last month.
The truce went into effect on December 30 and has brought calm to much of Syria, although fighting persists in some regions.
The ceasefire excludes IS and its rival the Fateh al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front after breaking ties with Al-Qaeda last year.