World Bulletin / News Desk
“Operations have in almost all manners returned to normal in terms of the operations we're conducting from Turkey,” Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said at the Pentagon where he briefed reporters alongside Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
Dunford said his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, reached out to him twice last week and noted Turkey’s commitment to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL.
“So clearly something that happened last weekend is going to have an impact across the board inside of Turkey. But we're going to work very closely to try to mitigate that as best we can,” Dunford said.
Carter also noted his phone call last week with his counterpart, Fikri Isik, and said, “the coalition air operations are back on track at Incirlik”.
The defense leaders also addressed ongoing talks between the U.S. and Russia to cooperate against ISIL and al-Nusra Front in Syria.
Dunford said the current engagement with Russia is limited to military-to-military contact for the safe separation of aircraft and security of both countries’ forces on the ground.
Secretary of State John Kerry, rather than the Pentagon, is leading the effort to push Moscow toward the U.S.’s goals in Syria, according to Carter.
He said the U.S. would like to see Russia cooperate with the U.S. to find a political solution to end the violence that would allow Syrians to decide their future and to defeat extremist groups in Syria.
The Russians are “a long way from doing that,” Carter said.
On the other hand, Dunford said it is hard to say whether it would be “viable” before seeing “the specific framework within which other contacts may be made.”
Kerry’s proposal includes intelligence sharing between Washington and Moscow to coordinate airstrikes against Nusra and prohibit the Syrian air force from attacking moderate rebel groups.
"We're not entering into a transaction that is founded on trust," Dunford said. "There will be specific procedures and processes in any transaction we might have with the Russians that will account for protecting our operational security."