Jun 09 2018

Turkish and U.S. soldiers will patrol Manbij - Defence Minister

Turkish and U.S. soldiers will patrol the northern Syrian town of Manbij as part of the deal  reached between the two countries over the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia from the region, Turkey's Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli announced in Brussels on Friday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Following months of negotiations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday agreed to a roadmap for Manbij, according to which US backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) will withdraw from the city. 

Turkey recognises YPG as a terrorist organisation and analogous to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting inside Turkey since 1984. The YPG forms the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition in their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region.

Canikli met with his U.S. counterpart James Mattis on Friday, during the NATO summit in Brussels. "We had a very detailed, constructive and positive meeting on the Manbij roadmap,” Canikli told reporters after the meeting.

Canikli also said that Mattis and the Pentagon have supported the development of the roadmap, though they had a different opinion about the YPG in the beginning. According to Canikli, Turkey provided many documents about the PKK affiliations of Syrian Kurdish forces to the U.S. side and, as a result, the arguments of Turkey have now also accepted by the U.S. to a large extent.