A Syrian hard-line Islamic faction has expressed strong support for a U.S.-Turkish plan to set up a safe zone in northern Syria free of the Islamic State group.

The ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham group says such a zone is "vital" and serves the interests of the Syrian people.

Tuesday's statement suggests the powerful group is seeking to position itself as a main faction on the ground that could work with the United States and Turkey to carve out such an IS-free zone.

The statement came a day after Al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, said it's withdrawing from areas along the border with Turkey where it has been fighting IS militants.

Turkey began carrying out airstrikes against IS targets in Syria two weeks ago.