Top soldier, intel chief talk Syria in Moscow

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Turkey’s top soldier and intelligence chief have discussed the current situation in Syria with the Russian chief of staff in Moscow, the Turkish army said on Nov. 2. 

In a written statement, the Turkish General Staff said Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart, Valery Gerasimov, spoke Nov. 1 in Moscow over a solution to the clashes in Syria, the normalization of the situation in the besieged city of Aleppo and increasing the coordination between the two countries in order to bring the region’s security to a desired level by eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as a threat to the area.
Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan also participated in the visit to Russia.
The statement added that the meetings were conducted in a positive atmosphere.
In a statement issued on Nov. 1, the Russian Defense Ministry said Akar and Gerasimov discussed the search for a solution to the Syrian conflict in Moscow, including normalizing the situation in Aleppo, while also discussing the ongoing operation to liberate Iraq’s Mosul from jihadists, on Nov. 1.
“The question of settling the Syrian conflict, including the normalization of the situation in Aleppo, was discussed during this meeting,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Nov. 1, adding that it was “open” to an exchange of views.
Russia has been militarily backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has been a supporter of the Syrian opposition seeking to oust the Syrian government.
The Iraqi army’s offensive to take back Mosul from ISIL was one of the issues discussed by the army chiefs in Moscow, the statement also said.
Gerasimov also informed the Turkish military leader of Russian efforts to “help the humanitarian situation in Aleppo,” it added.
Russia ceased air strikes on eastern Aleppo 16 days ago, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Nov. 1, after criticism over a Russian-backed Syrian government assault that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals.
Shoigu also accused the U.S.-led coalition in Syria of failing to rein in hardline rebels, saying the chance of a political settlement was “remote.”

Turkey hits 80 ISIL targets in Syria: Military
Meanwhile, the Turkish army said it had hit 80 ISIL targets in northern Syria on Nov. 1 as part of the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation.
Three members of the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) were killed and four others were injured in clashes with ISIL, the Turkish General Staff said in a separate written statement.
It said the FSA-controlled towns of Aq Burhan, Vash, al-Baruzah, al-Gharz, Tlatinah in northern Aleppo, and Jabal Khirbat al-Kanisah in southern Akhtarin, were recaptured by ISIL.
Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation with the FSA in late August to clear Syria’s northern border area of ISIL and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization due to its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
However, the Turkish Air Force were forced to halt air strikes in support of the operation after the Syrian government warned that it would shoot down any Turkish warplanes entering Syrian airspace. The Turkish Air Force has been unable to carry out operations in Syrian airspace since Oct. 22, when the country’s air defense systems were activated.

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