US Anti-Terror Team In Turkey for Talks


 A high-profile US anti-terror team arrived in the Turkish capital July 7 to discuss possible cooperation with NATO ally Turkey in combating extremist militants in Syria and Iraq.

The US team includes senior officials John Allen, President Barack Obama's special coordinatior in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a former Marine Corps general, and Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy.

The delegation had a lengthy meeting with Turkey's top diplomat, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and senior security officials. There was no statement after the meeting.

The meeting came at a time when Turkey reinforced its military units along the country's 900 km border with Syria in a bid to deter both ISIS' potential advances and the formation of a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Syria.

"The meeting … was primarily designed to focus on conversing policy priorities between the two allies, rather than debating divergent points," a senior Turkish diplomat said.

Turkey and the US have long discussed an optimal strategy to fight hostile elements in Syria and Iraq, parts of which have been controlled by ISIS since last summer. But the two allies differ on prioritizing the enemy: the Turks insist any allied offensive should first target Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the US thinks the top enemy is ISIS.

Turkey also has insisted on building up a safe haven and a no-fly zone in northern Syria, but the US has so far abstained from cooperating on any of these requests.

Meanwhile, the Turkish army said July 7 it detained nearly 800 people trying to cross illegally from Syria, including three suspected ISIS members. The military said 768 people were detained on July 6 alone while trying to cross the border.

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