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Turkey, Russia, U.S. Military Chiefs Discuss Cooperation Against IS


Turkey's Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar (center) meets with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford (left) and Russian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov in Antalya on March 7.

The chiefs of staff of the Turkish, Russian, and U.S. militaries have met in southern Turkey in an effort to boost coordination in Syria and prevent skirmishes between rival groups that are all battling Islamic State (IS) militants.

The meeting between Hulusi Akar of Turkey, Joseph Dunford of the United States, and Valery Gerasimov of Russia on March 7 came amid progress made by a U.S.-led coalition in pushing IS forces out of Syria.

Turkey, Russia, and the United States are all fighting IS militants, though they support different sides in the Syrian conflict. Tensions also remain over Turkey's opposition to U.S. support for the involvement of Syrian Kurdish militia in the battle against IS.

Greg Hicks, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said discussions at the trilateral talks in Antalya focused on "additional measures" to boost the effectiveness of the fight against extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

"During the meeting the parties discussed regional security matters in Syria and Iraq...with an effort to wage a more effective fight against all terrorist organizations in the future and the importance of additional measures for de-conflicting operations," Hicks added in a statement.

The Antalya meeting came as Iraqi troops, with air and ground support from a U.S.-led coalition, are gaining ground in a large-scale operation aimed at retaking the IS-stronghold of Mosul in Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on March 7 that the talks were aimed at improving coordination to prevent "the risk of unwanted clashes" given the number of countries operating in Syria.

The Antalya talks are aimed at ensuring better coordination to avoid "the risk of unwanted clashes" as many countries are involved in Syria, Yildirim said.

"The objective of the meetings today and tomorrow is how to provide coordination in the best way possible and prevent parties from interfering with each other's operations and causing unpleasant developments while fighting against terror," Yildirim said.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and Interfax
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