Joint US-Turkish Patrols in Syria's Manbij Begin

Joint US-Turkish Patrols in Syria's Manbij Begin

Joint US-Turkish Patrols in Syria's Manbij Begin

Earlier that month, the two countries approved a stabilization road map on Manbij which stipulated the exit of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the city and that control be handed over to Turkish and USA troops. When Turkey launched Olive Branch, the USA announced that it would not provide any military support to the YPG fighters in Afrin since they operated outside the realm of the US-led coalition's mission to defeat IS.

Turkey has long considered the Kurdish-led YPG to be a major threat to Turkey, due to the group's ideological ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a leftist Kurdish political and paramilitary group that is designated as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.

The joint patrols are the latest stage in a roadmap agreed between Ankara and Washington to assuage Turkish concerns about Kurdish groups in Manbij - groups Turkey considers terrorists.

Turkish forces have already forced the Syrian Kurdish forces from west of the Euphrates in two cross-border operations, in 2016 and 2018.

On Sunday, the Turkish military fired artillery shells at US-backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) positions in the east of the Euphrates.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA and the European Union - has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

USA and Turkish forces have begun joint patrols in the area of Manbij, Syria, where Kurdish militia have been critical to defeating Islamic State fighters. "Unilateral military strikes into north-west Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said.

According to Agar, with this offensive Ankara is telling Washington that "either we take action together against the YPG or we will do so unilaterally".

CNN-Turk television quoted Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying that training for the joint patrols between the Turks and the Americans have ended but it was not clear yet when the patrols will start.

"The joint patrols of Turkish and United States troops on which we have made plans and completed training and which we said would start, began at 1353GMT", Hulusi Akar said at the Turkish Parliament.

US relations with Turkey, one of its closest allies in the Middle East for decades, have been strained nearly to breaking point in recent months by differences over Syria and a range of other issues.

Instead of idling around in Manbij, we are determined to turn our focus and energy to the east of the Euphrates.

The Syrian rebel-affiliated Step News Agency reported on Thursday that Kurdish forces are moving armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry from eastern Deir Ezzor to Hassakeh, about 270 kilometres east of Kobani.

"Offensive operations have been halted, defensive operations continue".

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