Top military chiefs from Turkey, US, Russia came together in Antalya for talks

(English-French Post)

The top soldiers of Turkey, the United States and Russia came together in Antalya in a first of its kind tripartite summit, the Turkish military has stated highlighting developments in Syria and Iraq as top issues of the agenda in order to discuss deconfliction between their forces and allies on the ground in Syria.

Reuters reported earlier tonight, the 7th of March that the United States appears to have decided to enlist the help of Kurdish YPG militia in a campaign to push Islamic State out of its stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, thwarting Turkey’s ambitions, a senior Turkish official said this Tuesday. The meeting of top generals came ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s two-day visit to Moscow, which is expected to start on Thursday, according to Anadolu Agency. The chiefs of staff of the three countries are discussing how they can ensure good coordination in fighting terrorism in the region, the Turkish prime minister stated.

Turkey views the YPG and its political affiliate the PYD as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency against the Turkish government. US has supported the SDF as a proxy force on the ground against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) independent of the Syrian Army, which is supported by Russia and Iran.

The US and Russia have dedicated deconfliction communication channels to keep each other aware of their activities in the skies over Syria and ensure no conflicts arise. In their meeting on Tuesday, the Department of Defense reported, the three generals discussed extending the deconfliction process to ground operations as well. Principally, the three army chiefs scrutinize plans for a combined trilateral offensive to drive ISIS out of its Syrian capital, Raqqa.

The three countries continue to back various fighters in northern Syria bringing them within close proximity of each other’s forces, particularly around the city of Manbij this week. The top soldiers of the three countries have held a number of bilateral meetings in recent months, particularly on security issues in Syria and Iraq, but have never met in a three-way meeting (Hürriyet Daily).

Russia brokered an agreement for local forces in Manbij to hand over territory west of the city to the Syrian army in order to create a buffer zone between US-backed Kurdish and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Manbij and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces advancing towards the city with the stated goal of pushing out Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) allegedly stationed there.

The US deployed its special forces to the Manbij area in a show of strength and support for the SDF. Turkey and the United States, both members of NATO, do have some military coordination. The US and other coalition forces are using Turkey’s Incirlik’s military airbase in the province of Adana to carry out airstrikes against ISIS.

Clashes between the FSA and Manbij forces have continued but officials in Ankara have backed off their rhetoric regarding military operations in Manbij.

The US and Russia are not working together militarily, beyond their deconfliction program, but both are involved in many of the same battlefields in Syria.

According to some sources, in the event of their failure to reach terms for US-Russian-Turkish cooperation in Syria, the three army chiefs will seek understandings on dividing Syria into sectors. They will determine which sectors are to be ruled by US forces and out of bounds to Russian forces, and which will be placed under exclusive Russian control and barred to American intervention.

Sources: Rudaw, Hurriyet Daily News, Reuters, Anadolu Agency.

  • Français: Les chefs d’Etat-major turc, américain et russe en Turquie pour discuter de l’Irak et de la Syrie.

Les chefs d’Etat-major des armées turques, américaines et russes se sont réunis le 7 mars dans la province d’Antalya en Turquie, selon Ankara et Moscou. Dans un communiqué diffusé par le ministère russe de la Défense, la Russie avait par ailleurs précisé que les hauts responsables militaires discuteraient de questions de sécurité en Syrie et en Irak.

Cette réunion trilatérale exceptionnelle survient alors qu’Ankara s’oppose à la participation aux opérations de milices kurdes soutenues par Washington, au moment où l’EI recule face à la coalition antijihadiste et aux forces prorusses.

Les tensions se cristallisent autour de la ville syrienne de Manbij, d’où la Turquie veut chasser les milices kurdes YPG, mais dans les environs de laquelle les Etats-Unis ont déployé des militaires et la Russie a envoyé des véhicules de transport blindés.

Preuve de ces tensions, la Turquie refuse de s’associer à une offensive sur Raqqa, qui inclurait les combattants kurdes, pourtant en première ligne dans la lutte contre l’Etat islamique, mais qu’Ankara considère comme liés au PKK.

La Turquie a d’ores et déjà fait savoir qu’elle ne participerait pas à une offensive contre Raqqa si les YPG y étaient associées et propose aux Etats-Unis de s’appuyer sur un contingent de quelque 10.000 rebelles syriens arabes entraînés par Ankara.

Le gouvernement turc a lancé une opération militaire baptisée “Bouclier de l’Euphrate” en août 2016 au nord syrien pour lutter contre les terroristes de Daech et les combattants kurdes près de ses frontières.


Sources:, L’Orient le Jour, Euronews

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