Joint US-Turkey Patrols Could Begin in Manbij Over Coming Days – CENTCOM Chief
17:51 23.10.2018(updated 17:58 23.10.2018)
Ankara has long been locked in negotiations with Washington over the city of Manbij and other parts of northern Syria under the control of Kurdish forces, seeking to limit their influence.
Turkish and American troops are likely to start conducting joint patrols in Manbij over the coming days, General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), told reporters on Monday.
Both militaries have been carrying out their own separate patrols in northern Syria, and a recently agreed deal paved the way for US and Turkish forces to begin training for joint patrols.
"We're right on track with where we want to be. We've been through a very deliberate and mutually agreed upon training program," Gen. Joseph Votel stressed.
The senior US military official didn't specify the number of troops that will be involved.
Over the weekend, following a cabinet meeting in Ankara, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın announced that the necessary training and planning had been completed, suggesting joint patrols could begin imminently.
The Manbij deal was reached earlier this year, in June, after negotiators eventually agreed on a plan which consists of militants from the People's Protection Units (YPG) group withdrawing from the area.
Turkey considers the YPG to be part of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has fought a bloody insurgency in the name of Kurdish independence.
In early 2018, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the Turkish Army and allied rebels to seize Afrin to dislodge YPG forces from the area, drawing condemnation from the Syrian government.
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