US, Turkey Begin Joint Patrols in Syria's Manbij


He doesn't believe the United States has given Turkey its "blessing" to attack Kobane because YPG fighters are very close to U.S. special forces.

U.S. Central Command said in a news release that a ground force commander agreed on by both countries will lead the joint patrols.

The YPG, the dominant group and leader of the USA -allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), controls almost all of the territory east of the Euphrates, including regions along Syria's border with Turkey.

The US-backed Kurdish-led force in Syria on Wednesday said it would temporarily halt operations against the "Islamic State" group (IS) after its forces came under fire by the Turkish military.

Kurdish news agency Hawar News reported that the joint patrols took place 19 kilometers from the city with three USA and three Turkish vehicles, starting from the village of Arab Hassan.

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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. "We have completed preparations and plans regarding this issue", Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party on Tuesday. At the time, the SDF said it sent its fighters to defend the enclave, and accused Turkey of jeopardizing the anti-ISIS campaign.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, also said the patrols would follow days of Turkish shelling of positions of the main Kurdish militia.

Last week, IS jihadists staged a counterattack following a weeks-long SDF offensive in the countryside around Hajin. Erdogan has dismissed the Pentagon's concern that the military drive could compromise the battle against ISIS in eastern Syria, where the Kurdish force is a key combatant.

Turkish forces this week struck several Kurdish militia targets near the town of Kobani in northern Syria.

Training for the patrols was recently concluded and three U.S. defense officials told CNN on Tuesday that the joint patrols were due to begin in "a matter of days".

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In early June, Ankara and Washington adopted a road map envisaging the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Manbij and the transfer of control over the Syrian city to Turkish and United States troops. The sides have conducted 68 independent patrols before the combined patrols started.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying that despite promises that the YPG and other Kurdish militias "will be removed from Manbij, the terror organisations are digging trenches there like they did in Afrin". Kurdish units liberated Manbij from Daesh* in 2016.

Earlier this week, Erdogan increased threats to launch a major offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters near the Euphrates River.

And on Sunday, the Turkish military fired artillery shells at YPG positions in the village of Zor Maghar, east of the Euphrates River.

"The terror organisation should know that they will be buried in the trenches when the time and place comes", Mr Akar said.

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