Manbij roadmap is not progressing well, Turkey’s president says

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Armoured vehicles of Turkish Armed Forces patrolling in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on June 22, 2018. Turkish Armed Forces on Friday completed their third 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. AFP PHOTOS

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a roadmap for the northern Syrian city of Manbij endorsed by Ankara and Washington in June was not progressing well, Reuters reported, citing the Hürriyet newspaper.

As part of the roadmap, Turkish and US forces are now carrying out patrols in Manbij to clear the area of People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, which Turkey views as a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within its borders.

“We are not at an ideal point [on Manbij]. Unfortunately the agreement made is not going forward in the same direction as the initial discussions,” Erdoğan told journalists on the presidential plane during his return from Kyrgyzstan.

In a meeting on Tuesday Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the US special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey, discussed the developments in Syria.

“Regarding Manbij, there is progress, although slow. We constantly remind our partners that the YPG must leave the region,” Akar said in a speech at a military promotion ceremony in Ankara on Aug. 30 following a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

Later on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke by phone with his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, to discuss developments in Idlib and Manbij as well as bilateral ties, a diplomatic source said, amid a widening row between the two NATO allies.

Both diplomats agreed that a Syrian government offensive in Idlib would be “an unacceptable, reckless escalation,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

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