Turkey said Thursday that it would contribute a 90-strong special forces unit to the U.S.-led operation in Afghanistan, heeding a U.S. request for help from NATO's only Muslim member.

Turkey said its special forces, which have fought Kurdish rebels for 15 years in southeast Turkey, in mountainous conditions that resemble parts of Afghanistan, could strengthen the loosely organized forces of the northern alliance that opposes the ruling Taliban.

The force would also conduct reconnaissance missions, help combat terrorists and support humanitarian aid operations as well as protect and evacuate civilians, a statement from Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's office said.