Turkey, US to Jointly Patrol Kurdish-Held Manbij in Syria
The Turkish and U.S. troops will jointly patrol the Kurdish-held city of Manbij in northern Syria as part of a deal last week reached between two allies during the Turkish foreign ministers’ visit to Washington on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after NATO meeting in Brussels, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced the new development. He met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the sidelines of the NATO meeting.
“We had a very detailed, constructive and positive meeting on the Manbij roadmap,” he said, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
During a meeting in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to a roadmap to “ensure security and stability in Manbij.”
After initial confusion over the terms and details of the plan, Turkish and American officials confirmed that the roadmap envisaged the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia.
A day after the deal, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced that it would pull out its military advisors from the city.
The U.S. cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main command structure dominated by Kurdish advisors, have remained a source of friction between two NATO allies.
Turkey believes that YPG, which has a large presence among senior SDF commanders, has an affiliation with outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK has been fighting to carve up an autonomous region in southeastern Turkey for self-rule.
While the U.S. and EU list PKK as a terrorist organization, they view the Syrian Kurdish militia in different terms, in more benign fashion, to the chagrin of Ankara.