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18 Jun, 2018 22:01

Turkish & US troops coordinate ‘independent’ patrols near Kurdish-held town in Syria

Turkish & US troops coordinate ‘independent’ patrols near Kurdish-held town in Syria

Turkish and US troops have begun separate patrols along the line dividing the Turkish-controlled areas from the Kurdish-held town of Manbij, northern Syria, after Ankara and Washington agreed a “roadmap” on the Kurds’ withdrawal.

“As per the Manbij Roadmap and Safety Principles previously agreed upon, independent patrol activities by soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces and US Armed Forces have begun on the line between (the Turkish-controlled) area and Manbij,” the Turkish Armed Forces announced on Twitter on Monday.

The Kurdish YPG militias, whom Ankara considers terrorists and an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), have been leaving Manbij after the start of the patrols, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later told a campaign rally in Samsun.

“We said the terror organizations would be removed from there. They have started to be removed… The patrolling has started,” Erdogan is cited as saying, by Hurriyet newspaper.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, promised that Turkish soldiers would enter Manbij “step by step” in order to achieve “stability of the region,” while Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that the military’s task is to “clear terror elements” from the region.

The Pentagon spokesman, Eric Pahon, told Reuters that the US-led "coalition and Turkish forces have begun coordinated but independent patrols near, but not in, Manbij."

The Manbij Military Council, which is affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and is mainly comprised of YPG fighters, has also confirmed the beginning of the patrols.

“On the Manbij side there are Manbij Military Council and coalition forces doing patrols,” Muhammad Abu Adel, the Council’s head, told Reuters.

READ MORE: Kurds left in the cold as US & Turkey agree on ‘roadmap’ for Syrian city pullout

The patrols of Turkish and American forces lasted for around three hours and took place in the area overlooking the US base in Syria’s Dadat town, Anadolu news agency reported.

They were launched in line with a “roadmap” for withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from Manbij, which was agreed by Ankara and Washington on June 4 in order to end a lengthy dispute over the town.

Turkey has been angered by Washington’s support of the Kurds, who are striving to create their own national state, and Ankara has even threatened to target Manbij despite the presence of US troops in the area. By striking the deal with fellow NATO-member Turkey, the US has basically turned its back on the Kurdish forces, who have been the main American ally in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

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