Joint US-Turkey patrols begin in Syria's Manbij
Troops from Turkey and the US launched joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on Thursday (November 1st), the Turkish defence minister said, part of a bid to ease tensions between the NATO allies.
"The joint patrol in Manbij between Turkish armed forces and the US began today at 3:53 pm," Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told lawmakers, according to state-run news agency Anadolu.
The city is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The patrol took place around the Sajur river that divides Manbij and the region of Jarablus, which was captured by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition groups from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) in 2016, AFP reported.
Earlier this year, Turkey and the US agreed the SDF would withdraw from Manbij.
As part of the roadmap, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the time said the agreement would ensure the SDF leaves Manbij, then Turkey and the US would work together to establish a local security structure and decide who will govern the city.
Meanwhile, the international coalition said Thursday it was working to "de-escalate" fighting between Turkey and the SDF in Syria.
"We have been in communication (with) both Turkey and the SDF to de-escalate the situation," spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said on Twitter.
The move came a day after the Arab-Kurd alliance suspended an offensive against ISIS in eastern Syria after Turkey shelled its positions.
SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel told AFP on Thursday that anti-ISIS operations in Syria were "temporarily suspended" but that the alliance's forces were still holding their positions in the area.
"Offensive operations have been halted, defensive operations continue. Our forces are consolidating their positions defensively," he said.