The military chiefs of staff of Turkey, Russia and the United States held talks on Tuesday in the southern Turkish city of Antalya to discuss regional issues, including Iraq and Syria, the Turkish army said.
“Common issues relating to regional security, in particular Syria and Iraq, are being discussed at the meeting,” the army said in a statement, without elaborating further.
The meeting, which was hosted by Turkish Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar and attended by US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Russian Chief of General Staff General Valery Gerasimov, appears to be the first of its kind.
Moscow also confirmed the meeting, with the defense ministry saying in a statement to Russian news agencies: “A joint discussion on security issues in Syria and Iraq is planned at the event.”
In August, Turkey-backed forces launched an operation to drive ISIS militants 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 focused on villages west of Manbij, setting Turkish-backed rebels against the Manbij Military Council, part of the US-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. Manbij is controlled by the Manbij Military Council and the US 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 Recep 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 US and Russia.
The Antalya meeting comes as Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition are making progress in a vast operation aimed at retaking the ISIS-stronghold of Mosul in Iraq.