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U.S., Turkish Chiefs of Staff Discuss Raqqa Operation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A rebel fighter stands with his weapon near a military vehicle on the outskirts of the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria February 8, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Ankara- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has discussed with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov the latest developments in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq, on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meetings.

Also, U.S. Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford met with Turkish counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar at the Incirlik Air Base.

Turkish-Russian relations, the Syria crisis and the exerted efforts to find a political solution were discussed by Cavusoglu and Lavrov following the Astana 2 meeting that took place in Kazakhstan on Thursday and that concluded with no final agreement between the Syrian regime and opposition.

In his meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Cavusoglu explained to Tillerson the danger of U.S. supporting Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units.

The main topic discussed between Dunford and Akar at the Incirlik Air Base was the Turkish rejection of the participation of Kurdish militias in liberating Raqqa from the extremist group ISIS, given that this operation is expected to be launched shortly.

“The operation to gain complete control of al-Bab has neared its end and the resistance of the ISIS has largely been broken,” the Turkish military statement said.

As the Turkish army denied any casualties among civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that Turkish shelling and airstrikes in al-Bab have killed 34 people, 17 of them children.

On the other hand, the Turkish army statement reported the death of 15 ISIS members in the land and air campaign in al-Bab.

Russia rejects that Turkey and the Free Syrian Army advance in al-Bab individually and sees that it was preferable if Ankara waited for a final agreement on the eastern countryside of Aleppo city because this might hurdle negotiations.