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Erdogan, Trump Discuss Syria on Phone Amid Lingering Discord Over Manbij

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Donald J. Trump held a phone conversation before the latter’s meeting with the Russian president in Helsinki on Monday, discussing cooperation in northern Syria amid festering differences over northern Syrian town of Manbij.

During the talk, two leaders who underlined the importance of following up the themes raised during the NATO summit in Brussels also exchanged views about developments in Syria,” a statement released by the presidential press office said.

The statement said Erdogan wished Trump success ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is noted during the phone talk that the implementation of the roadmap in Manbij would provide a vital contribution to the resolution of the Syrian conflict.

In early June, the Turkish and U.S. officials reached an accord to ensure security and stability in Manbij, and agreed to the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia from the town. To this end, the accord envisaged a pullout of the Kurdish parts of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Manbij.

The group grudgingly acquiesced to the demand of withdrawal of its forces. The Manbij Military Council, which aligned with Kurdish-dominated SDF, reportedly announced that it completed the pullout of fighters from Manbij.

But that met with a rebuke from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, with a senior official dismissing it

“We find reports that the PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij to be exaggerated. The process is still continuing,” the official told the Turkish media on the condition of anonymity.

“Withdrawal from the checkpoints on the patrol route is ongoing. Joint patrol preparations are continuing,” the same source said, adding that the reports, at this stage, do not reflect the reality.

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