Turkey has granted France permission to use its airspace in the fight against Daesh, also known as Islamic State or ISIL.
Officials in Turkey will allow French jets to fly in its airspace on their way to attacking Daesh militants, reports Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. According to Sputnik News the report cites a diplomatic source.
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Turkey gives permission for French jets to use airspace
“France asked us for authorization to use our airspace in the context of the fight against Daesh in Syria. This authorization was given on condition that the general principles outlined for the coalition countries are followed,” the source said.
A group of 65 countries are involved in bombing Daesh positions as part of the struggle against Islamist militants. France is part of a coalition bombing targets in Syria and Iraq, where Daesh militants have made significant territorial gains.
Recent terror attacks in the French capital of Paris left 129 people dead and 350 injured, prompting France to intensify its bombing campaign. Paris also sent its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the region in order to support air operations.
Russia maintaining independent campaign against militants
At the same time Russia has been bombing Daesh positions using more than 50 aircraft, including the Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 warplanes. Russian airstrikes began on September 30 and have been working to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his fight against rebel groups.
Russian warplanes have carried out over 2,000 missions, eliminating several hundred militants and hitting around 3,000 targets. Daesh positions are also the target of U.S. airstrikes, with Washington part of the coalition.
With warplanes from Russia, the U.S. and other NATO countries all operating in such a small area, the potential for interaction is scarily high. Fears of engagement were realized recently when Turkey shot down a Russian plane which it said had violated its airspace.
Could Syria prove a spark for World War 3?
Fallout from the shooting did not escalate to the extent that some people feared, but Russia has warned Turkey that it will not forget about the incident. Sanctions have been imposed in Turkey in retaliation for the death of one pilot.
Just yesterday another NATO ally joined the coalition in airstrikes on Syria. British MPs voted to commence a bombing campaign after a long day of fraught debate in the House of Commons.
With so much firepower trained on Daesh, it is hoped that the militant group will be significantly weakened. However it has been argued that the campaign against Daesh is not restricted by the number of planes or bombs at the disposal of the coalition, but rather by a lack of intelligence.
The intelligence situation is set to improve thanks to the deployment of more U.S. special forces to Iraq. The group will have license to carry out missions on Syrian territory.
While deploying a limited number of troops on the ground will help identify targets for airstrikes, it also represents significant mission creep from the United States. President Barack Obama had previously maintained that such a situation would not be allowed to arise, and the move has been met with opposition.
The fight against Daesh continues to become more complicated, and there are fears that accidental engagement between Russian and coalition planes could spark World War 3. The downing of the Russian jet in Turkey was met with restraint from Moscow, but it is unlikely that another similar incident would be treated so sensitively.