Turkey, Russia, US military chiefs hold talks in Antalya city

Turkey, Russia, US military chiefs hold talks in Antalya city
Turkey’s Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov meet in Antalya, on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2017

Turkey, Russia, US military chiefs hold talks in Antalya city

Turkey, Russia, US military chiefs hold talks in Antalya city

ISTANBUL: Turkish, Russian and US military chiefs held talks on Tuesday in the southern Turkish city of Antalya to discuss regional issues including Iraq and Syria, the Turkish Army said.

“Common issues relating to regional security, in particular Syria and Iraq, are being discussed at the meeting,” the army said in a statement, without elaborating further.
The meeting attended by Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov appears to be the first of its kind.
In the past, Antalya hosted several NATO meetings, as well as the G20 Summit in 2015.
Moscow also confirmed the meeting, with the Defense Ministry saying in a statement to Russian news agencies: “A joint discussion on security issues in Syria and Iraq is planned at the event.”
The talks come a day after Turkey stepped back from threats to strike Syrian Kurdish militia forces deployed in the former Daesh bastion of Manbij in Syria, unless it was in cooperation with Russia and the US.
“It makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the cooperation of Russia and the US,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a televised interview.
His announcement stood in stark contrast to previous threats from Ankara that it would hit Syrian Kurdish militia — considered “terrorists” by Turkey — unless they withdrew from Manbij.
Turkey had often said that the next target of its cross-border Syria campaign would be the flashpoint town of Manbij, which is now controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a group dominated by Kurdish fighters.
Ankara has launched an ambitious military campaign inside Syria since late August, backing Syrian opposition fighters and recapturing several towns near its border from Daesh including Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Dabiq and Al-Bab.
The Turkish campaign is also aimed at stopping the advance of Syrian Kurdish militia, which Ankara accuses of being the Syrian branch of an outlawed Kurdish militant group.
Turkey has also said it wanted to work with its allies to capture the Daesh bastion of Raqqa, but has ruled out any operation alongside the Kurdish militia.
A member of the US-led coalition fighting against Daesh, Turkey is also cooperating with Russia in Syria. The Antalya meeting comes as Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition are making progress in a vast operation aimed at retaking the Daesh stronghold of Mosul in Iraq.