US’ Europe commander in Ankara for Syria talks

US’ Europe commander in Ankara for Syria talks

Emine Kart - ANKARA
US’ Europe commander in Ankara for Syria talks U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Aug. 22 for a brief visit, during which he held discussions on the Syrian quagmire with the top Turkish commander.

Gen. Scaparrotti, who took command of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) in May, has also been assuming a NATO hat, as he then also took over as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

He held talks with Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar in Ankara. A written statement on issues addressed during the meeting between the two top commanders was expected to be released by the U.S. military by the end of the day on Aug. 22.

Scaparrotti also held a closed-door meeting with Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman while in Ankara, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from senior sources. 

At parliament, Gen. Akar accompanied Scaparrotti as he visited the parliament building damaged, during the July 15 thwarted military coup attempt, as well as the General Assembly hall, the same sources said.
Scaparrotti’s visit to the Turkish capital came just days before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Turkey scheduled for Aug. 24. 

While having confirmed Biden’s visit over the weekend, the White House said Biden will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım during his visit, which will be the first by a high-ranking U.S. official since the July 15 uprising.

Yıldırım was quoted by Turkish media earlier over the weekend saying that Washington’s attitude had “improved” on Ankara’s an extradition request for Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by Turkey of orchestrating the attempted coup last month.

Hectic cycle of visits in Ankara

Scaparrotti’s visit also came just days after Gen. David L. Goldfein, the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, paid a visit to the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana in order to inspect the U.S.-led coalition fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) last week.

Aircraft from six countries, including U.S. jets, are contributing to the coalition from İncirlik.

Goldfein visited 39th Air Base Wing Airmen and their coalition partners at İncirlik to view firsthand the ongoing operations.

İncirlik Air Base, a strategic location situated in southeast Turkey nearly 70 miles from the Syrian border, has been has been flying counter-ISIL mission in Iraq and Syria since Aug. 12, 2015. 

In early August, İncirlik had hosted another senior U.S. commander as a visitor. U.S. Air Force Gen. Frank Gorenc, the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Africa, and Allied Air Command, visited airmen at İncirlik to thank them for their work during his time as their commander. During the visit Gorenc also met with NATO-linked Turkish partners.