Assad's forces take over positions from US-backed militia in northern Syria

Miranda GreerMar 10, 2017

Not only are Syrian government and rebel forces there, but also Turkish, Russian, American and Kurdish troops.

In an earlier exchange with visiting foreign journalists, Yildirim said ties between the two countries would be significantly undermined, though he declined to name any specific steps Turkey - a member of the USA -led coalition fighting IS - might take in response.

In fact, according to one general, the Russian jets recently targeted villages held by us -backed Syrian Arab Coalition fighters shortly after ISIS were forced out of them. Photos of McGurk's visit to Kobani surfaced on social media and he was seen meeting with former PKK fighters in Syria.

Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham about the YPG's "Marxist view of governing", Votel said "I think it's fair to say that there is some affinity back towards that".

In a thinly veiled criticism of Washington, the Turkish premier on Tuesday lashed out at "some allies' unfortunate" choice of Syrian Kurdish militia forces as partners in the fight against IS. Turkey and Syria support opposite sides in the Syrian civil war.

The meeting of the top brass came ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russian Federation.

The Antalya talks, which are expected to stretch into Wednesday, was driven by "the current situation of the fight against all terrorist organizations in Syria with an effort to wage a more effective fight", Capt. Hicks told Reuters.

"Common issues relating to regional security, in particular Syria and Iraq, are being discussed at the meeting", the Turkish army said in a statement, without giving further detail.

A replay of USA and Soviet troops meeting on the Elbe?

Later on Tuesday, Yildirim said countries operating in Syria must coordinate their actions to eliminate all terrorist groups.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of US and coalition forces in Syria and Iraq, said last March 1 that within the previous two days Syrian regime forces had advanced to "essentially rifle-range or hand-grenade range" of USA -backed Syrian Arab Coalition fighters who are holding the area around Manbij.

Top Turkish officials have repeatedly vowed in recent weeks that the Turkish troops will move on to capture Manbij unless the YPG leaves the town.

"Statements by Turkish officials about ownership of Syrian territory by this or that group in Syria are unprecedented and undermine Syria's territorial integrity and must therefore be stopped", remarked Logoglu.

The volatile situation in and around Manbij is worrisome for the USA on several levels, including a concern that additional conflict there could detract from US efforts to mold a Syrian opposition force capable of recapturing Raqqa, the IS self-declared capital. Helicopters and transport aircraft carried USA special forces as well as weapons for the Kurds thanks to the bases, according to reports in the Turkish media.

Our operations in Syria will continue, and our priority right now is to limit any adverse effects our departure from Turkey may have on the innocent men, women and children who depend on our assistance.

However, Washington has still not divulged a clear policy on Syria.

"Disintegration of states in the Middle East would have disastrous consequences", he warned.

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