Turkish, US army chiefs meet, discuss developments in Syria, Iraq
Uğur Ergan – ANKARATurkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar met his U.S. counterpart Joseph Dunford on the sidelines of the annual meeting of NATO’s Military Committee in the Albanian capital of Tirana.
During the meeting on Sept. 15, Akar and Dunford discussed developments in Syria and Iraq, including a planned independence referendum in northern Iraq and setting up of de-escalation zones in Syria.
In the meeting, Akar informed Dunford on the agreement reached between Russia, Iran and Turkey regarding setting up de-escalation zones in four different regions of Syria, including the rebel-held Idlib, for six months, as well as a joint coordination center to monitor the truce between the Syrian government and moderate opposition groups.
He also gave information regarding Tehran, Moscow and Ankara sending 500 observers each to Idlib.
One of the crucial moments in the meeting was when Akar told Dunford about Turkey’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. cooperation with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey has repeatedly told the U.S. its discomfort with the latter aiding the YPG in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), saying that the weapons sent to the group reach the PKK, which is accepted as a terrorist group by both Ankara and Washington.
Akar also stressed that Turkey will never allow a “Kurdish corridor” on its southern borders.