NEW: Pentagon commends Turkey for joining coalition efforts against ISIS
Turkey joined coalition operations against ISIS on Friday night, its foreign ministry says
Turkish warplanes previously carried out unilateral strikes against ISIS positions in Syria in July
Turkey launched its first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria on Saturday as part of the U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The participation of Turkish air forces in coalition operations was formalized and signed on Monday, according to the ministry.
As part of the framework of the agreement, Turkey, along with coalition aircraft, began joint operations Friday night against ISIS targets in Syria.
The targets were deemed to represent a security threat for Turkey, the ministry said.
Turkish warplanes bombed ISIS positions in Syria for the first time late last month, but the airstrikes were then part of a unilateral effort and not as part of the U.S.-led coalition.
The Turkish strikes in July were carried out without going into Syrian airspace, according to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Friday’s Turkish Air Force strikes were fully integrated into systems for managing coalition air operations.
“We commend Turkey for its participation in counter-ISIL air operations alongside other Coalition nations in the international campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL,” he said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
Turkey’s new willingness to take the fight to ISIS comes after months of reluctance from Ankara to act.
The shift in stance follows intense international pressure and an attack last month by an alleged ISIS suicide bomber in the Turkish town of Suruc, near the border with Syria, which killed 34 people including the suicide bomber.
It also allowed the United States to launch manned airstrikes from a base in Turkey against ISIS forces in Syria earlier this month.
CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and national security producer Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.