Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

US, Turkey to begin patrols around northern Syrian town

US, Turkey to begin patrols around northern Syrian town

The US considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the YPG or SDF. "We have completed preparations and plans regarding this issue", Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party on Tuesday.

American backing of the SDF has caused tensions with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, which considers the YPG militia to be a terrorist organization tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) battling the Turkish army for almost four decades.

The US has worked closely with the YPG in the fight against ISIS in Syria, straining relations between Washington and Ankara.

USA and Turkish forces have begun joint patrols in the area of Manbij, Syria, where Kurdish militia have been critical to defeating Islamic State fighters.

"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", Deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told a news conference in Washington on Wednesday. "We can come suddenly any night", he said.

Mr Palladino said the USA was fully committed to Turkey's border security but at the same time expressed Washington's commitment to the Kurdish-dominated Syrian forces. At the time, the SDF said it sent its fighters to defend the enclave, and accused Turkey of jeopardizing the anti-ISIS campaign.

Those Kurdish militia fighters, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), are bolstered by Washington as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) countering IS.

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Turkish forces responded with immediate counter fire that "liquidated 10 terrorists", the defense ministry said. The continuation of Turkish attacks, the group said, would further delay the offensive on the ISIS-held pocket of Hajin.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey killed four Kurdish fighters in shelling of YPG positions in Syria near the border at Kobane. 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 and United States troops patrolled around the Saju Stream, which separates the Manbij frontline from the city of Jarabulus, an area falling under Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, according to media on the ground.

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 Americans and the Turks have been conducting independent patrols along the border, and joint patrols are seen as a way of preventing violence. Turkey, however, still wants Kurdish forces in Manbij to withdraw from the town.

"We are aware of Turkish statements about a planned offensive into northeast Syria and have been in touch with Turkey and the SDF to de-escalate the situation", he added, while saying that the U.S. military was "working closely with the SDF who are in the midst of offensive operations against ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley", calling the USA allies "a committed partner against ISIS".

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

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