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Turkish, US and Russian military chiefs meet on Syria, Iraq

While they are all ostensibly fighting to dislodge ISIL from north-eastern Syria, some are longtime allies, while others are sworn enemies, temporary bedfellows or suspicious confederates. A 400-strong additional deployment which arrived in recent days comprised both Marines and Army Rangers, Dorrian said, adding they were there temporarily.

Ankara has launched an ambitious military campaign inside Syria since late August, backing Syrian opposition fighters and recaptured several towns near its border from IS, including Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Dabiq and Al-Bab.

The growing controversy brought together the top military officials from Turkey, the United States and Russian Federation on Tuesday in the Turkish city of Antalya, a new step in exploring how military operations by the three countries will occur in increasingly tight quarters in Syria. The army has also clashed with Kurdish groups that the government in Ankara regards as terrorist organizations with links to separatists in Turkey, and which took control of Manbij after expelling Islamic State from the town just before the Turkish incursion.

Xelil foresaw eventual US political engagement with the Syrian Kurdish groups - something Washington has largely avoided so far.

"In my opinion, the Americans and Russians will not allow Turkey [to hit the SDF], because all Syriacs, Arabs and Kurds are united in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)", he said. American forces were near the scene, but were not affected by the mistake. They were essentially setting themselves up as a buffer to stop their two allies against ISIL from attacking each other. Syrian troops are reportedly not in Manbij, itself, but are patrolling areas to the west and south. Mercy Corps, a Portland-based humanitarian agency, has been forced to shutter its operations in Turkey, affecting aid operations that help up to 500,000 people in neighboring Syria each month, according to the group.

Fearing deepening Kurdish influence in northern Syria, Turkey has been pressing Washington for a role in the final assault on Raqqa. Kalın was probably referring to an expected statement from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The administration of former President Barack Obama capped troop levels in Syria in an effort to avoid escalation after an eight-year ground war in Iraq, a move that rankled war hawks in Congress who believed it hobbled the war effort.

"The Turkish military is present in Syria and carries out military operations there, and the Russian military continues activities to support the Syrian armed forces - this requires very close interaction and coordination", the Kremlin spokesman said. But the presence of US Special Operations Forces in the area makes it unlikely that Turkey would risk any unilateral moves that might bring it into direct conflict with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

"Turkey told its counterparts that no terror group can be destroyed by using another terror group", he said in Ankara.



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