US, Turkish Troops Begin Patrolling Syria’s Manbij


"The joint patrols of Turkish and United States troops on which we have made plans and completed training and which we said would start, began at 1353 GMT", Hulusi Akar said at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed Syria in a phone call on Thursday.

"The joint patrol in Manbij between Turkish armed forces and the USA began today at 3.53pm (1253 GMT)", Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told lawmakers, according to state-run news agency Anadolu. But, apart from the recent statement by the Pentagon about the launch of joint patrols soon in Manbij, none of these promises were kept as the YPG was expected to leave the city by September 5.

Turkey considers the YPG militia an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has led an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.

A Kurdish-led force backed by a US-led coalition on Wednesday suspended operations against the Islamic State group and said they would not resume until Turkey halts its attacks on Kurdish militia posts in northern Syria.

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"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

A designated and bilaterally agreed upon ground force commander will lead the joint patrols, the US-led coalition said.

FILE - In this April 4, 2018 file photo, a US soldier sits in an armored vehicle on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.

Joint US-Turkish patrols around the northern Syrian town of Manbij have begun, Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday.

A USA base near Manbij, Syria. Joint patrols are considered a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups in the region.

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"We will soon come down hard on the terror organization with more extensive and effective operations", he said.Turkish forces had already bombarded positions east of the river held by the YPG, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on October 29. "We have concluded our preparations and planning regarding this issue", Erdogan said on Tuesday during his address to the parliamentary group meeting.

Earlier this year, Turkey and the U.S. agreed the YPG militia would withdraw from Manbij.

People's Protection Units (YPG) spokesman Nuri Mahmoud told The National that they are ready to intercept any attempt by Turkey to cross into the Kobani canton, east of the Euphrates River.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including those of women and children.

For now, Russian Federation seems to support Turkey's military moves on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

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