Turkey's Çavuşoğlu talks Syria with US, Russian counterparts in Manila

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met on Aug. 6 with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the Philippine capital Manila during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, before holding a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later in the day. 

Speaking to reporters after the bilateral talks with Lavrov, Çavuşoğlu said they discussed the ongoing Syrian conflict, the Astana talks, visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to Russia, and economic ties, especially the possible lifting of a ban on export of Turkish tomatoes to Russia.

"It was a positive meeting," he said.

Ahead of the key meetings, Turkey sent artillery units to the border with Syria on Aug. 5, where its army regularly clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

A military convoy with at least five howitzers arrived overnight at the southern city of Kilis, the scene of recent cross-border fire between the Turkish army and the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG).

The new units were there to reinforce rather than replace the artillery already in place, the agency reported, citing military sources.

Across the border from the province of Kilis lies an area of northwest Syria that is controlled by the YPG, which is Washington-backed but deemed a terror group by Ankara due to its ties to the PKK.

Already in August 2016, Turkey launched a ground offensive into northern Syria to push back Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and prevent the YPG forces linking up their different zones of control. 

Separately, about 2,000 ISIL militants are estimated to remain in the Syrian city of Raqqa, fighting for their survival in the...

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