US, Turkey conduct first joint observation flight over Syrian territory: report

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Armoured vehicles and soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces start to patrol between northern Syrian city of Manbij and Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield area on June 18, 2018. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey and the US conducted the first joint observation flight over Syrian territory, Pentagon Spokesman Sean Robertson told the state-run Anadolu news agency, saying that that two generals, one from each country, flew on the same helicopter on Saturday.

This “milestone” followed establishment of the joint coordination center earlier this week, Robertson said in an emailed statement.

This flight demonstrates the US’s commitment to address “Turkey’s legitimate security concerns on their southern border,” the statement underlined.

The statement also reiterated US’s determination to “maintain security in northeast Syria so [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)] cannot reemerge.”

The first joint helicopter flight between the two NATO allies allows the coalition and US partners to “remain focused on achieving the enduring defeat of [ISIL],” the statement added.

In a phone call on Wednesday Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper agreed to launch the first phase of the Syria safe zone plan as of Aug. 21.

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