Russian, US and Turkish military officials discuss Syrian crisis

The United States appears to have made a decision 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 on Tuesday.

The Turkish press has carried allegations against Mercy Corps and other global groups in recent months, claiming that the NGOs were supporting armed groups against Turkey's government.

In August, Turkey-backed forces launched an operation to drive ISIL away from its border with Syria. Right next to them are pro-government Syrian regime forces. "We remain hopeful that the government of Turkey will allow us to return to serve those in critical need", it added. Then, right next door are USA -backed Kurdish and Arab coalition forces.

Under pressure in Washington over allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election, U.S. President Donald Trump has backed off his campaign pledge to cooperate on fighting terrorism in Syria with Putin.

Turkey has said it wants to create a safe zone inside Syria along the border, 60 miles long and about 28 miles deep.

Turkey has sought the support of the US, its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, to lead a ground offensive against Islamic State's main Syrian stronghold of Raqqa that would advance through areas controlled by Kurdish fighters, a Turkish official said last week.

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The U.S. and Turkey are also discussing plans to recapture the Islamic State's self-declared capital of Raqqa in Syria. Turkey has objected, and its force is headed toward Manbij.

The US-backed SDF is mostly comprised of Kurdish militia, considered terrorists by Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country was seeking a "trilateral mechanism" to clear the area of "terrorist groups".

The surprise meeting between Turkey's Gen. Hulusi Akar, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, took place in the Turkish coastal city of Antalya.

Under the existing framework established in 2015, a United States colonel in Qatar and a Russian counterpart in Syria discuss the locations of operations their countries are carrying out in Syria without sharing any intelligence. Before, the two officers had not met face-to-face since 2014, when the United States broke off most contact between the USA and Russian militaries after Moscow launched military operations in Ukraine and annexed that country's Crimean Peninsula as its own.

The top generals of the Turkish, Russian and USA military met Tuesday in a bid to step up coordination in Syria and avoid clashes between rival forces in the fight against IS.

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