Turkish, US top soldiers meet after three-way Syria summit with Russia
Uğur Ergan - ANKARAFollowing a three-way military summit between Turkey, Russia and the United States, the chiefs of staff of Turkey and the U.S. met bilaterally, sources have said, with developments in Syria and Iraq regarding the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as top of the agenda.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar met with U.S. Chief of General Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford in Antalya on March 8, a day after they concluded a trilateral summit with the participation of their Russian counterpart Gen Vasily Gerasimov. The American and Russian military delegations left Antalya after the conclusion of talks on March 8.
A written statement issued by the Turkish Chief of General Staff late on March 7 stressed that the three top soldiers discussed fight against terrorism in the Middle East, security challenges specifically in Syria and Iraq, and measures to avoid unwanted conflicts in the Syrian theater.
“There is a crisis in the region and as you know we are intensely involved in it. This crisis needs to be solved. I want to emphasize again how important your statements as well as your contributions are to finding a solution,” Akar told his counterparts, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
“I expect [Turkey-led operations] to constitute a significant stage to prevent the bloodshed in war-torn [Syria]. It is our common interest to end this conflict so that peace is achieved. I hope Turkey-led military operations make an important contribution to the region’s security, including our nations,” he added.
According to the information gathered from sources, Akar’s meeting with his American counterpart focused on the upcoming Raqqa operation, as he reiterated Turkey’s well-known position that it will not take part if the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are involved.
However, it is reported that the U.S. has not indicated a major change in its position that favors the inclusion of the YPG in future phases of the anti-ISIL fight in Syria, while Russia has underlined that Raqqa’s control should be given to the Syrian army after the city is freed from ISIL.
On Manbij, meanwhile, Akar briefed how Turkey regards the situation in detail, stressing that the PYD/YPG should withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River.
Talks to ‘accelerate’ ties: Russia
Members of the Russian parliament believe the high-level meeting in Moscow between Turkish and Russian presidents will accelerate the development of bilateral relations, and enhance cooperation in Syria. Alexey Chepa, deputy chair of the State Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, told Anadolu Agency a day before the mutual meeting that the High-Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) meeting on March 10 would give momentum to the relations.