Ankara Says Turkish Troops Begin Patrols in Rural Manbij
Turkish troops, along with the U.S. soldiers, have begun patrolling in rural parts of the northern Syrian town of Manbij, the Turkish president and foreign minister confirmed on Monday, after months of wrangling between Ankara and Washington over how to ensure removal of the Kurdish forces from the city.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the development and said the Turkish troops will enter the town soon.
Earlier in June, Turkey and the U.S. reached an agreement for the implementation of a roadmap that envisages the gradual withdrawal of the U.S.-allied Kurdish militia from the town.
After Cavusoglu’s meeting with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo in a visit to Washington in early June, both sides endorsed the roadmap to “ensure security and stability in Manbij,” which was controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The roadmap included joint patrol by Turkey and the U.S.
Cavusoglu noted that Manbij would be cleared of YPG, a Kurdish militia which dominates SDF, and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.
“As of today, our soldiers have also begun their duty in Manbij. They are working with the U.S. to liberate Manbij from terrorist elements,” state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Prime Minister Binali Yildirim as saying.
“Coalition and Turkish forces have begun coordinated but independent patrols near, but not in, Manbij,” spokesman Eric Pahon told the U.S. media.