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Turkish, Iranian brass meet in Ankara

Iran and Turkey's top military leaders are beginning three days of meetings today in Ankara, and coverage so far suggests the two rivals are feeling marginalized and eager to work together to promote their shared interests.
General Staff of the Armed Forces of Iran, Mohammad Bagheri (R) salutes the honor guards as he is welcomed by Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Hulusi Akar (L) during his official visit at the Turkish General Staff headquarters in Ankara, on August 15, 2017.   / AFP PHOTO / STR        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran’s chief of general staff arrived in Ankara today for a three-day visit heralded by Iran's state news agency as “unprecedented” and by Turkey's Daily Sabah as a "milestone" as the two regional rivals seek to reconcile differences over Syria and Iraq and to discuss shared fears of Kurdish separatism.

Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, "citing border security and the fight against terror," told Iran’s official news agency, “This trip was necessary for better consultation and cooperation on various military and regional issues.” The visit comes ahead of a sixth round of talks between Turkey, Iran and Russia to establish so-called de-escalation zones in Syria. That meeting is planned to be held by the end of August in the Kazakh capital, Astana. It also comes a week before US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is slated to travel to Ankara, part of a regional tour. Officials involved in its planning told Al-Monitor the trip will include stops in Iraq and Qatar.

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