Erdogan, Trump mull situation in Syria, steps to improve relations

Erdogan, Trump mull situation in Syria, steps to improve relations

Earlier that month, the two countries approved a stabilization road map on Manbij which stipulated the exit of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the city and that control be handed over to Turkish and United States troops.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke on Thursday with Erdogan.

"The joint patrol in Manbij between Turkish armed forces and the USA began today at 3.53pm (1253 GMT)", he told lawmakers.

But even as the joint patrols were due to begin this week, Turkey announced a new offensive against the Kurds on the opposite bank of the river, into territory where the SDF has USA troop support.

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.

In a new spike in tensions along the border, Turkey said its military shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River.

Turkish military advances into northern Syria over the past two years have put USA forces backing Kurdish YPG fighters directly in the path of advancing troops from Turkey.

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

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the IS counter-attack killed at least 72 fighters from the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Troops from Turkey and the United States launched joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on Thursday, the Turkish defence minister said, part of a bid to ease tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. Conducting joint patrols is seen as a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups in the area.

Despite the tension that would grow with the United States, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his country had finalized plans for a "comprehensive and effective" operation that would target the USA -backed Kurdish groups in the east of the Euphrates River. "We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue", he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in parliament.

The Manbij deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the YPG terrorist organization, from the district that is located west of the Euphrates river in order to establish stability in the region.

"After Manbij, our next venue will be east of the Euphrates", Akar pointed out.

The IS has been driven to just a few towns in the area and the U.S. and its coalition allies conducted 184 air and artillery strikes last week targeting the terror group's last remaining territory, striking command and control centres, weapons caches and vehicles.

"Offensive operations have been halted, defensive operations continue".

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