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Russian, Turkish chiefs of General Staff discuss Aleppo crisis

November 01, 2016, 18:34 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, November 1. /TASS/. The situation around Aleppo and at the Syrian-Iraqi border in the context of the operation for the liberation of Iraq’s Mosul was in focus of a meeting between Russia’s Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and his visiting Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday.

"The sides continued the discussion of cooperation on the settlement of the Syrian conflict, including the issue of the normalization of the situation around Aleppo. They exchanged opinions on the situation in northern Syria and in the area around the Syria-Iraqi border in the context of the anti-Islamic State operation near the city of Mosul," the ministry said.

In particular, Gerasimov told his Turkish counterpart about Russia’s efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Aleppo. Another topic raised at the talks was the necessity to separate Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) from the Syrian opposition.

"The sides reached an understanding to continue contacts between the two countries; General Staffs, including at the expert level," the ministry said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier that a humanitarian pause has been observed in Aleppo for 16 days, with Russian warplanes delivering no air strikes and eight humanitarian corridors open for civilians and militants willing to leave the city. Terrorists however keep on bombing these corridors not to let civilians use them.

A ground operation to liberate Mosul from terrorists of Islamic State began on October 17. It involves the Iraqi troops, Kurdish units and the US-led coalition. Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a population of 1.3 million, has been controlled by Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) for over two years. According to the Iraqi military, from 5,000 to 6,000 militants are holding the city. On October 19, Gerasimov said militants may by agreement leave Iraq’s Mosul unimpeded and head for Syria.

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