Turkish-US Patrols of Syria's Manbij May Start 'Today or Tomorrow'

US-backed Syrian fighters halt anti-IS offensive after Turkey attacks Kurdish forces

On Sunday, the Turkish military fired artillery shells at US-backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) positions in the east of the Euphrates. "We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue", he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in parliament.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its links to the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

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

The patrols will take place in the contested city of Manbij, which is held by Kurdish allies of the USA and where us forces have warily watched encroaching Turkish troops.

The news came also as tensions inside North Atlantic Treaty Organisation continue to spiral, with the United States excluded from a summit in Istanbul which was billed as a key step in deciding Syria's future.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, also said the patrols will begin Thursday adding that they follow days of Turkish shelling of positions of the main Kurdish militia.

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

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.

"Erdogan has nationalists who are breathing down his neck", and a lot of rhetoric and probably some military activity and incursion can be expected but the situation is unlikely to result in a broader showdown between the allies, Skinner said in an interview in Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkish and United States soldiers have begun joint patrols around the city of Manbij in northern Syria aimed at averting clashes between Turkey and Washington's Kurdish allies, even as Ankara presses on with a new threatened offensive nearby to crush the Kurds.

The forces of Turkey and the US-led coalition have been carrying out independent patrols in Manbij since June 18.

To ease ties, the countries agreed to a road map in June that included the YPG withdrawing from Manbij and establishing the joint patrols in the city.

CNN-Turk television quoted Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying that training for the joint patrols between the Turks and the Americans have ended but it was not clear yet when the patrols will start.

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.

Ankara has already backed Syrian rebels to push the Kurdish forces out of the northern enclave of Afrin earlier this year.

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