The United States and Turkey have started training together to carry out joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, despite tense relations between the two countries, Reuters reported.
As agreed by the two NATO allies in June, Turkish and US forces are currently carrying out patrols in Manbij, but those are independent of each other. Training is the last step before the two countries carry out joint patrols.
In August, Turkey’s presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın announced joint patrols and training for them would begin soon.
“The training now is under way, and we’ll just have to see how that goes,” Mattis told a small group of reporters traveling with him to Paris.
“We have every reason to believe the joint patrols will be coming on time, when the training syllabus is complete so that we do it right,” Mattis added.
He said the United States was currently working with trainers and that it would be followed by a few weeks of training with Turkish troops before the joint patrols started.
The training will take place in Turkey.
Turkey has been angered by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia — which it views as a terrorist organization — and prior to the June agreement it had threatened to push on with a ground offensive against the YPG in Manbij despite the presence of US troops there.