Turkish, US, Russian military chiefs discuss Syria tensions
BEIRUT (AP) — The top generals from Turkey, the United States and Russia met today in Turkey to discuss mutual suspicions over northern Syria military operations, as Russia's military announced a two-week long cease-fire between rebels and the government in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
The Russian military said a cease-fire has been in place since Monday, and will extend until March 20, for the Eastern Ghouta region outside Damascus, but activists reported a number of airstrikes and artillery strikes by government forces, killing two civilians.
The White Helmets search-and-rescue group said they dug up the bodies of a child and an adult from the rubble of the strikes on Harasta, inside the rebel-held Ghouta pocket.
Government forces have intensified their siege against the civilians and rebels there since February in an effort to secure a surrender that would see part of the population sent to exile. The U.N. has denounced other such arrangements as "forced displacement" and war crimes.
The Siege Watch monitoring group says around 400,000 people are trapped under the constant bombardment.
The surprise meeting between Turkey's Gen. Hulusi Akar, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, was called to address reciprocal mistrust between Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, and Russian-allied Syrian government forces, fighting their way toward the Islamic State group's de facto capital, Raqqa.