Russia, Turkey, US Hold Military Talks Amid Syria Standoff

Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan October 2016

Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan October 2016

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim described the tripartite talks as an attempt to coordinate their moves in Syria so as to avoid accidental clashes between their respective forces as they pursue the Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist outfits from the ground and the sky.

Reuters reported earlier Monday that the Manbij Military Council (MMC) of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the town and its rural area are protected by the council under the surveillance of the USA -led coalition forces.

It came after Russian and Syrian regime forces started to move "humanitarian" convoys into Manbij, making it more hard for Turkish troops to launch the offensive they had threatened.

The U.S. military has carved out a new role in Syria, with small numbers of troops now positioned to prevent an escalation of violence among an array of militias and other forces that have converged on an increasingly complex battlefield. "This is the main objective of the meeting that will continue today and tomorrow", Yildirim said, according to Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday Turkey would strike against US -backed Kurdish YPG militia in Manbij if they advanced into the Syrian city and found them present, according to NTV television.

"It makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the cooperation of Russian Federation and the United States", Yildirim said in a televised interview late on Monday.

On Tuesday, Operation Inherent Resolve told Sputnik that the coalition had deployed additional troops near Manbij to ensure there was no persistent YPG presence in the area.

Turkey has seized a swathe of Syrian land on its southern borders since launching its "Euphrates Shield" operation in August.

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But the Turkish campaign is also aimed at stopping the advance of the Kurdish militia, which Ankara fears could join up its so-called "cantons" in northern Syria, near its border.

The YPG is a key fighting force in the SDF, which spearheaded the victories against IS in the flashpoint towns of Kobane and Manbij.

"We urge the global community to take a humanitarian stand", he told Reuters by phone from Manbij.

The U.S. and Russian Federation have found themselves teaming up for the first time in the war in Syria - against a country both call an ally: Turkey.

Erdogan, who has been one of the foremost critics of President Bashar al-Assad, is due to fly to Moscow on Friday for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Washington is mainly supporting an alliance led by Kurdish groups, who are considered terrorists by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey due to their links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), while groups backed by Ankara include Islamist factions accused of war crimes. 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.

Turkey is cooperating with Russian Federation in Syria, despite them being at odds politically over the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Moscow backs militarily.

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