Turkish FM meets senior US officials to discuss Syria, anti-ISIL fight
DHA photoTurkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with two senior United States diplomats on March 23 to discuss ongoing efforts to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to resolve the Syrian problem through peaceful means.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy for the region Brett McGurk were in Ankara to hold talks with Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu and Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu.
The visit comes amid reports that the anti-ISIL coalition is readying for an offensive against the jihadists’ positions in Raqqa, an operation seen as preparation for a comprehensive military move to liberate Iraq’s third largest city, Mosul from the ISIL. Turkish and American officials have also exchanged views on the ongoing U.N.-led efforts to provide a political transition period in Syria.
Earlier in the day, Blinken visited Ankara’s central Kızılay Square, the site of a deadly suicide car bomb attack earlier this month. Accompanied by U.S. Ankara Ambassador John Bass and Defense Attaché Brig. Gen. Marc Sasseville, Blinken commemorated the victims of the attack by leaving flowers at the scene.
The March 13 car bomb attack hit a major Ankara public transportation hub, killing 36 and injuring dozens of civilians. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for the attack. Turkey’s Interior Ministry identified the bomber as 24-year-old Seher Çagla Demir, who was recruited by the PKK and also received training with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), in Syria, according to state intel.