The United States and Turkey are close to signing a joint action military agreement against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, according to The Wall Street Journal
The proposed deal would allow the U.S. and its coalition partners access to Turkish air bases to launch air strikes against the terrorists in northern Syria.
The plans also include a protected zone along the Syrian border that would be off limits to Syrian fighter jets and provide a safe harbor for moderate Syrian rebels and refugees fleeing the country's civil war, reported the Journal.
Citing officials from both countries, the report said U.S. and coalition aircraft would use Turkish air bases to patrol the zone, preventing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s aircraft from attacking rebels crossing the border back into Syria.
Turkey has allowed 2,000 moderate Syrian rebels to be trained on its own soil, and has sent its special forces to northern Iraq to train Kurdish peshmerga fighters, according to Fox News
The Obama administration had balked at a proposal from Turkey’s government in Ankara that included an extensive no-fly zone across one-third of northern Syria, arguing it would have been tantamount to an act of war with Assad’s regime.
Currently, Turkey only allows the U.S. military to fly unmanned surveillance flights out of the Incirlik air base, the Journal said, citing U.S. officials.
The possible agreement comes a week after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Vice President Joe Biden in Ankara and called on the Obama administration to crack down on Assad’s regime, according to the Journal.
Erdogan also told Biden that Turkey was concerned that the Islamic State’s advances in northern Syria could lead to two million more Syrian refugees being forced to cross the border into Turkey, which has already taken in more than 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the brutal ISIS fighters.
The proposed deal came to light just as Syrian moderates revealed that the U.S.-led coalition targeted the terror group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in northeastern Syria on Sunday with more than two dozen airstrikes.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes included an attack on the Division 17 air base, which ISIS had seized from Iraqi government forces, Fox News reported.
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