Turkish chief of staff Akar visits Russia
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar is currently visiting Russia for talks on military cooperation and regional issues, the Turkish Armed Forces said in a written statement on Nov. 1.
Akar arrived in Russia on Nov. 1 as the official invitee of his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, and the two military chiefs will exchange information and views, read the statement.
His visit comes amid halted airstrikes by Turkey’s air forces in support of the Euphrates Shield operation after Damascus warned that it would shoot down any Turkish warplanes entering Syrian air space.
Since Oct. 22, the Turkish Air Forces have been unable to carry out campaigns in Syrian airspace because air defense systems in neighboring country were activated following flights by Turkish warplanes, sources told the Hürriyet Daily News last week.
Speaking after the cabinet meeting on Oct. 31, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said Ankara was conducting diplomacy in parallel to its military operations in Syria.
Asked about halted military flights in Syrian airspace since Oct. 22, Kurtulmuş said Turkey aimed to clear the region of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other terrorist threats, but does not want to get into clashes with other armed forces.
“If other problems arise, we try to overcome those through dialogue and diplomacy. Turkey provides logistical support to the Free Syrian Army [FSA] for the struggle against ISIL and the [Syrian Kurdish] Peoples’ Protection Units [YPG], not for fighting against any other forces,” he added.