Turkish forces will not enter Manbij, says US-led coalition spokesperson

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MANBIJ, SYRIA - JUNE 20: Armoured vehicles of Turkish Armed Forces are seen as they begin a second round of patrolling in the northern Syrian city of Manbij as part of the objective to rid the area of the YPG on June 20, 2018. Saher el Hacci / Anadolu Agency

Turkish soldiers “will not” enter the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which is currently under the control of the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the local military council, Rudaw reported, citing a US spokesperson.

US Army Col. Sean Ryan, spokesperson for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, was asked to clarify how coalition and Turkish troops are coordinating their patrols in line with a roadmap signed on June 4.

“[They’re] independent coordinations, they’re not joint patrols. I can tell you that Turkish soldiers will not go into Manbij,” said Ryan while briefing Pentagon reporters on Tuesday night.

Turkish officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have repeatedly said it will cleanse Manbij of “terrorists.”

“Manbij Military Council is in control of all the area, and so this will just be basically along the northern demarcation line is where the conflict will take to it,” said Ryan.

Ryan was asked what reassurances locals should have that Turkish forces will not enter the city.

He called it “an agreement between both countries” and said “all the details are still going to come out.”

“And I haven’t seen the final say on that, but from what we’re being told on our side is they will not enter Manbij, or any other area, from the 4 June agreement,” said Ryan.

Several sources have told Rudaw that Turkish forces are to patrol outside of the city but within the Sajur, or Euphrates Shield, border.

The government of Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad has called the presence of both US and Turkish troops an “incursion.”

Through the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conflict, the coalition has partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella force spearheaded by the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Ankara considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group in Turkey that has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Also, Turkish Armed Forces on Wednesday completed a second round of patrolling in the northern Syrian city of Manbij as part of a deal with the U.S. to rid the area of the YPG, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

After the patrol activity, which took two hours, Turkish troops returned to Turkey safely.

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