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SyriaTop generals of the USA and Russia met in Vienna

The Chiefs of Staff of the USA and Russia met on Monday for a - rare - meeting in the winter palace of the Belvedere in Vienna found. The main topic was the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, where the Russian military is still active.

Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov had discussed measures so that military operations in Syria on the part of Russia and on the part of the international coalition (anti-IS coalition, note) do not come into conflict with each other, the AFP quoted the spokesman for US Chief of Staff Dunford in its French-speaking service, Patrick Ryder. "The two sides exchanged views on developments in Syria," said a statement from the Russian Defense Ministry. Dunford and Gerasimov had "underlined the importance of continuing the interaction with the aim of avoiding incidents".

US President Donald Trump announced in December that it would withdraw all 2,000 US soldiers from Syria - on the grounds that the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS) had been defeated there. He's now expressing himself more cautiously. Most recently, it was said that around 200 of the soldiers in the civil war country should remain in action to protect the Kurdish fighters who are supporting the USA in the fight against IS. Critics warned that the Syrian Kurds would otherwise be exposed to an attack by Turkey without the US troops. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose backbone is the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG), are currently fighting for the last IS stronghold of Baghouz.

In the event of a premature US withdrawal, there were also fears that the IS militia could regroup. Against this background, the USA and its Western allies want to put together an international "remnant force". This is to stabilize the area in Syria, which is not controlled by the Assad regime, after the final defeat of the IS and to ensure order there.

Since Russia 2015 in the Syrian war on the side of rulers Bashar al-Assad occurred, Moscow and Washington have agreed on separate areas of operation in the fight against IS in order to avoid incidents or confrontations. Otherwise, the USA sided with the moderate opposition during the Syrian war. The USA and Russia also inform each other about air force missions.

Despite the poor relationship between the US and Russia, the two chiefs of staff have maintained an uninterrupted channel of communication. According to the Pentagon, Dunford and Gerasimov last met in Helsinki in June of the previous year. There was a phone call about Syria on January 4th. Following the Vienna meeting, Ryder said that both chiefs of staff had recognized the importance of communicating regularly with one another in order to avoid misjudgments, and of being transparent and conflict-free in areas where US and Russian troops operate in close proximity.

Following the meeting with the Russians, Dunford also met Austria's chief of staff Robert Brieger and with Wolfgang Baumann, Secretary General of Defense Minister Mario Kunasek. Armed Forces Spokesman Michael Bauer According to the talks, among other things, it was about cooperation in the Western Balkans.

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