Turkey, Russia, US military chiefs seek better coordination against IS

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.

At the end of February, Turkish and Turkish proxy forces converged with Syrian regime and Syrian proxy fighters, with ISIS in the mix, officials said, and Peoples' Protection Units, Syrian Democratic Force fighters and Syrian Arab Coalition fighters also are close together.

The meeting occurred as Russia's military announced a two-week cease-fire between rebels and the government in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus. "We have informed the government of Turkey of our concerns regarding Mercy Corps' closure and the impact it will have on their ability to provide critical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations", he said. The U.S. -led coalition "has taken this deliberate action to reassure coalition members and partner forces, deter aggression and keep the focus on defeating ISIS", spokesman Col. John Dorrian said on Twitter.

Turkish forces, along with Syrian rebel allies, crossed the border last fall to clear part of the area of Islamic State fighters.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), captured the area around Manbij from ISIS a year ago.

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

Over the weekend, the USA moved a small number of troops and several Stryker combat vehicles into Manbij to support the Manbij Military Council, the mostly Syrian Arab group that has controlled the town since the ouster of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria previous year. Turkey has objected, and its force is headed toward Manbij.

The U.S. and Russian moves leave Turkey with "no more room to maneuver", said Faysal Itani, an analyst with the Atlantic Council in Washington.

The top generals from Turkey, the United States and Russian Federation met Tuesday to discuss developments in Syria and Iraq as Syrian government forces made fresh gains fighting the Islamic State group.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the US Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Russian Chief of Staff, and Gen. Hulusi Akar, Turkish army chief, were conferring in Antalya when the Rangers landed in Syria.

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Under the existing framework established in 2015, a U.S. 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.

Turkey has opened its doors to more than 2.91 million refugees since the uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, and has also served as a hub for deliveries of humanitarian aid to Syria.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency in Turkey.

The Turkish army says its chief of the general staff has met with his Russian and American counterparts in Turkey, discussing the situation in Iraq and Syria among other things.

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