Turkish and US troops on Thursday began their first round of joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij as part of a deal to rid the area of the YPG, a Kurdish militia operating in the northern part of the country, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, citing Turkey’s defense minister.
“The joint patrols of Turkish and US troops — on which we have made plans and completed training and which we said would start — began at 3:53 p.m. local time,” Hulusi Akar said in parliament.
Turkish and US troops patrolled the area around the Saju Stream, which separates Manbij from the city of Jarabulus, an area included in Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, according to Anadolu reporters on the ground.
The Turkish Armed Forces have carried out 68 individual patrols in Manbij since June 18.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the US focuses on the withdrawal of YPG forces from the city, which is situated in the northeast of Syria’s Aleppo province.
The Turkish government sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.
The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.
Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August 2016 and ended in March 2017, aimed at eliminating armed threats along the border in the northern Syrian regions of Jarabulus, Al-Rai, Al-Bab and Azaz with the use of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish artillery and air cover.