Apr 28 2018

No agreement on Manbij, looking for "a diplomatic solution" - U.S.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson on Friday said her country and Turkey were looking to “find a common way forward,'' in Syria, in the wake of a statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu saying that an agreement had been struck between Turkey and the U.S. on the Syrian town of Manbij.

The U.S. State Department spokesperson told Ahval that the U.S. and Turkey "continue to work together on a common way forward to achieve our shared objectives in Syria, including the durable defeat of ISIS and a diplomatic solution for Manbij."

Secretary Mike Pompeo met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on April 27, on the sidelines of the NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, where the two discussed Syria and a range of bilateral issues.

Following Friday’s meeting, Çavuşoğlu said if the roadmap agreed on were implemented, ‘’the YPG will be withdrawing from Manbij. Otherwise, we will intervene as we did with Afrin,’’ signalling that the U.S. and Turkey had reached a deal on Manbij. The statement issued by the U.S. State Department also made a reference to "prior discussions on Manbij," and said "the two reaffirmed their support for the established bilateral process to find a common way forward."

The Syrian town of Manbij in 2014 became a hub for ISIS foreign fighters until the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance mostly made up of YPG fighters – backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes ousted the extremists from the city in August 2016.

Turkey has maintained that it will expand its current military operation, which began on Jan. 20, into Manbij, where U.S. soldiers are stationed, keeping the town a source of potential conflict between Washington and Ankara.

‘’The Secretary and Foreign Minister agreed on the value of U.S.-Turkish partnership in the region and of maintaining close communication. Secretary Pompeo conveyed the Administration’s concern for U.S citizens and Mission Turkey local staff detained in Turkey. Building upon prior discussions on Manbij, the two reaffirmed their support for the established bilateral process to find a common way forward,’’ the statement by Nauert said.