The top U.S. commander for the Middle East paid a surprise visit to Turkey on Monday and met with a senior official of the Turkish general staff.
Media reported that Army Gen. Joseph Votel met with Yaşar Güler, deputy chief of the Turkish military, in order to discuss and test the waters for a joint operation to attack the Syrian city of Raqqa, housing the headquarters of the DAESH terrorist organization. The proposed operation would combine the military might of the U.S.-led anti-DAESH coalition forces with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are dominated by the People's Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Military sources indicate the Turkish military does not support the operation.
Last week, Votel visited Syria and met with SDF senior officials. A CENTCOM spokesman commented on the visit: "He met with U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters, and with leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces."
Turkey and the U.S. have long differed over the PYD/YPG. While Washington cooperates with the group in the field in the fight against DAESH, Ankara regards the group as a national security threat and as politically contiguous with the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU.
Turkey and the U.S have reportedly agreed on a new strategy to clear DAESH militants from the town of Manbij in northern Syria. According to diplomatic sources that spoke with Daily Sabah on the condition of anonymity, they have agreed in principle to create a new strategy in Syria to combat the DAESH terrorist group.
The new strategy will see Turkey and the U.S. work closely with Arab groups on the ground in northern Syria to support their fight against DAESH. Ankara and Washington are resolute about clearing DAESH from the area around Manbij, which falls under the governorate of Aleppo in northern Syria.
The sources added that around 2,500 Arab fighters will be supported according to the new plan. On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed the Manbij strategy in the context of the ongoing crisis in Syria, as well as opportunities for increased bilateral cooperation against terrorist organizations.
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