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Russian war planes fight alongside Turkey in northern Syria Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

Russian war planes fight alongside Turkey in northern Syria

A Turkish airstrike in Syria on December 21 as part of Operation Euphrates Shield [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 30 December, 2016

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Moscow appears to have mended relations with Ankara after reports that Turkish war planes launched three airstrikes in Syria's al-Bab, where Turkish troops are fighting IS.

Russian war planes joined Turkish bombers in air strikes on the Islamic State group-held northern Syrian town of al-Bab on Thursday.

Three Russian jets took part in Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield  by striking IS positions which are under attack from Turkish and Syrian rebel fighters, in a potential sign of a military rapprochement between the two countries.

"The Russian Air Force conducted three air campaigns in al-Bab, killing 12 terrorists," the Turkish military said in a statement.

The Russian military did not make a statement with regard the al-Bab airstrikes. The New Arab tried to contact the Russian ministry of defence for comment on twelve separate phone numbers, but was unable to speak with a representative.

According to the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, Russian jets targeted locations in the south of the town, while the Turkish air force concentrated on the centre and north.

Russia's involvement in the Syrian conflict has thus far centred on rebel areas such as Aleppo and Idlib, however Thursday's Russian-Turkish-Iranian brokered ceasefire agreement seems to have created a new phase in the war.

The new ceasefire creates a three-way power split between Russia, Turkey and Iran, which will reportedly see Syria run according to a federal system.

Relations between Ankara and Russia deteriorated for a long time after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in 2015 because it crossed over into Turkish airspace. Turkey had warned Russia on a number of occasions before the incident not to violate its borders.

Relations began to thaw earlier this year as Erdogan began to look more to the East when his hopes of joining the European Union faltered.

Turkey has been fighting Islamic State in and around al-Bab since Operation Euphrates Shield started on 24 August.

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