Posted on March 7, 2017 by Editorial Staff in Kurdistan
Turkey’s Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (C) meets with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov in Antalya, Turkey Mar. 7, 2017. Photo: Turkish Military via Reuters
ANTALYA,— Turkey’s military chief of staff is meeting his U.S. and Russian counterparts in the southern Turkish province of Antalya to discuss regional security, notably in Syria and Iraq, the Turkish armed forces said on Tuesday.
No further details were available of the meeting being hosted by General Hulusi Akar.
In August, Turkey-backed forces launched an operation to drive Islamic State away from its border with Syria and prevent the Kurdish YPG militia taking territory in their wake.
Since pushing the jihadists out of their al-Bab stronghold, fighting has focussed on villages west of Manbij, setting Turkish-backed rebels against the Manbij Military Council, part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that includes the YPG.
Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency in Turkey.
Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian Kurdistan — similar to the Kurdish region in Iraqi Kurdistan — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.
Kurdish-led forces liberated Manbij from Islamic State group in August 2016 after a two-month-long offensive. The SDF then established the Manbij Military Council to provide security to and administer the embattled city.
Manbij is controlled by the Manbij Military Council and the U.S. military has deployed a small number of forces in and around the city to ensure that different parties do not attack each other.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last week said the next target for the operation in northern Syria was Manbij after Ankara-backed rebels seized al-Bab.
But Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said military action by Turkey would not make sense unless coordinated with the United States and Russia.
After clashing with Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army rebels west of Manbij earlier this month, the Manbij Military council declared a deal with Russia to hand front line villages to Syrian government control to prevent their coming under Turkish control.
U.S regards the Kurdish PYD and its powerful military wing YPG of Syrian Kurdistan as key ally against Islamic State and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers. The Kurdish militia has seized swathes of Syria from IS.
Syrian Kurdistan’s ruling PYD has established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan. On Dec. 30, 2016 Syrian Kurds approved a blueprint for a system of federal government in Syrian Kurdistan, reaffirming their plans for autonomy in areas they have controlled during the civil war.