Working with Turkey to Defeat ISIS in Syria

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Turkish counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar met at the Turkish General Staff headquarters on Sunday to hammer out a plan to defeat ISIS in Syria. After the meeting, Dunford said the two countries will “work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding, and governing Raqqa.” He added, “Obviously, we are a close ally, we really just want to make sure that we’re completely tight as we work through some challenging issues.” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Monday declined to say whether Turkey will participate in the operation to eliminate ISIS from Raqqa or whether it simply agreed not to interfere. A Turkish aircraft last month conducted 26 strikes against Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in northern Syria, claiming to have killed as many as 200 fighters. Turkey claimed the fighters, who were part of the Kurdish YPG, were an extension of the PKK inside Turkey. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, acknowledged recently Turkey’s resistance to a US partnership with the SDF because of its disputes with the Kurdish YPG, but said the Syrian Democratic Forces are currently the only fighters on the ground capable of carrying out the military operation in the timeline necessary.