U.S., Turkey conclude roadmap for Manbij – report

The United States and Turkey have concluded a roadmap for the future of the hotly-contested northern Syrian city of Manbij, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Brett McGurk, the special U.S. presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State (ISIS), praised the progress that the two countries had made to de-escalate tensions in the area, Anadolu said.

"We concluded a roadmap with Turkey, and our discussions with them have been fruitful and productive, and we look forward to those to continue," McGurk said. “We are grateful for that cooperation.”

The agreement focuses on the withdrawal of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey says are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), from Manbij and on ensuring stability in the region, Anadolu said.

Turkey captured the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin in March despite the objections of the United States and other Western allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had threatened to extend the operation into Manbij and had called on U.S. forces there to withdraw or expel the YPG. Turkey says the presence of the Kurdish militants presents a grave threat to its security and territorial integrity. Washington has used the YPG as its main fighting force against ISIS and to stabilise swathes of northern Syria.

The two countries are making military patrols separately in an area located between an area of northern Syria controlled by Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield and Manbij, according to the roadmap, the Turkish General Staff said on Sunday, Anadolu reported. The first patrols began on June 18, it said.