Mar 21 2018

United States denies deal with Turkey over Syria’s Manbij

A U.S. State Department spokesperson has denied claims by her Turkish counterpart that her country had made a deal with Turkey over the Kurdish-held area of Manbij in Syria, according to the transcript of a department press briefing.

U.S. troops are stationed in Manbij as part of a programme to train and equip the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group dominated by Kurdish fighters, to fight Islamic State. Turkey calls the Kurdish fighters terrorists and, after Turkish troops and their Islamist allies captured the city of Afrin from the Kurds on Sunday, has pledged to take Manbij and push Kurdish forces out of northern Syria.

“Today, Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Kalın said that – reiterated that the U.S. and Turkey have reached an agreement over Manbij and he said the implementation of Manbij deal would be delayed for a couple of weeks until the new secretary takes over,” a reporter said.

“Well, that’s funny,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert replied, “because no agreement has been reached.”

Nauert said her department did not have anything to announce in response to a Turkish statement that wider talks between the two countries, which were postponed after the replacement of Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, would resume very shortly.