Turkey Threatens New Syria Operation as US Shunned at Summit

An American military delegation arrives in Tal Abyad on Wednesday

Turkish and United States troops on Thursday began their first round of joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij, as part of a deal to rid the area of the YPG/PKK terrorist groups, Turkey's national defence minister announced.

Turkey and the United States carried out coordinated but independent patrol near Manuja.

US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units fighters, drive their armored vehicles on April 28, 2017, near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey.

Manbij was captured from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG.

On Tuesday, two days after another round of shelling of Kurdish posts in northern Syria, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had completed preparations for a new operation to "destroy" the YPG militia, which Ankara has branded a terrorist group.

The US-led coalition fighting ISIS has conducted scores of air and artillery strikes in recent weeks as it has sought to drive ISIS from its last stronghold east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

The defense minister also touched upon the Manbij deal between Turkey and the USA, saying that "despite the promises" made for the YPG's withdrawal from the city, the group was still deployed there.




Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the USA and the EU.

USA -backed Kurdish fighters in Syria said Wednesday they are temporarily suspending their campaign against the last batch of territory held by Islamic State militants in northeast Syria, accusing Turkey of jeopardizing their efforts.

Turkey has expanded its military offensive to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, a move experts believe is meant to put pressure on the U.S. to accelerate the implementation of a plan agreed by the two countries in June.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said four Kurdish fighters were killed and six were wounded in the attack on Wednesday. The campaign against ISIS "is not over and that fight remains hard", he said.

Beirut-based analyst Nour a-Din al-Omar, who recently conducted research in Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, suggests that some Kurdish political and military officials fear that their forces could once again be left to fend for themselves. The Turkish defense ministry later said the Kurdish militia fired on Turkish targets and that Turkish troops retaliated, killing 10 fighters.

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. Joint patrols are considered a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups in the region. Kurdish units liberated Manbij from Daesh* in 2016.

Sharfan Darwish, spokesman of the Manbij Military Council, told The Associated Press earlier that the patrols were taking place on the front lines between his group and those of Turkey-backed factions in the operation called Euphrates Shield.

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