Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, US Chief of Staff Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov have held a trilateral meeting in Antalya province.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) issued a written statement about the summit organized on March 7, reading “The sides have exchanged views on regional security issues in Iraq and Syria”, and added “Additional precautions against unwanted incidents to occur have been evaluated”.
US remark on ISIS
In a daily press conference, US State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner responded to questions about Syria:
“I think, broadly speaking, of course it’s a very complex environment around the area east of al-Bab. It’s a place where multiple forces, frankly, have converged – all with the intent to drive out ISIS. But I think when you’ve got multiple forces in such a small, confined space, we want to avoid any unnecessary or unintended escalation in what is already a very tense and dynamic situation.
“So we are sending a message to all forces that are there on the ground to remain focused on the counter-ISIS fight and concentrate their efforts on defeating ISIS and not towards other objectives that may detract from the coalition’s ongoing campaign.
“So we want to keep the focus on the stated intent to destroy ISIS. The coalition is going to continue work in close coordination with allies and partner forces, again, with the focus on defeating what is a common enemy, which is ISIS”.
What is happening in Manbij?
All fighting parties except for ISIS have come up against each other for the first time in Manbij since the Syrian conflict has begun.
While it was declared that al-Bab was taken under control in a joint operation launched by the TSK and Free Syrian Army (FSA), Manbij located south of al-Bab has become a disputed subject.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çauşoğlu said, “We will strike unless the YGP (People’s Protection Units) withdraws” on March 2.
Later on, Russia declared PYD (Democratic Union Party) would leave Manbij to Syrian army. The YPG, which deployed its forces to the east of Euphrates on November 16, 2016, announced that it would leave control of the city to Manbij Military Council.
Spokesperson of the US-led coalition forces against ISIS, Colonel John Dorrian declared on March 4 that armed vehicles patrol around Manbij to prevent potential clashes.
On March 6, the Manbij Military Council declared it handed six villages in Manbij’s west over to Syrian army. It was stated that the villages were handed over as a result of an agreement between Manbij Military Council and Russia to prevent Turkey and FSA’s potential offensive into the city.
Now, US forces are deployed in the north of Manbij, Turkish army –FSA and the Syrian army in the west, ISIS in the south and PYD in the east. (AS/TK)