THU 21 - 6 - 2018
Jun 1, 2018
The Daily Star
U.S. still in talks with Turkey on YPG leaving Manbij
ANKARA/MOSCOW: The U.S. State Department Wednesday denied media reports that a deal had been reached between the United States and Turkey on a three-step plan for withdrawing the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from Syria’s Manbij. “We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey ... we’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern” department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement in Washington, adding American and Turkish officials had met in Ankara last week for talks on the issue.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the two countries had reached a technical agreement on the withdrawal plan, a move Turkey has long sought from the U.S.
Turkey is outraged by U.S. support for the YPG militia, considering it a terrorist organization.
Ankara has threatened to push its offensive in northern Syria’s Afrin region further east to Manbij.
Manbij is a potential flashpoint.
The Syrian government, Kurdish militants, Syrian rebel groups, Turkey and the U.S. all have a military presence in northern Syria.
Under the terms of the plan to be finalized during a visit by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Washington on June 4, the YPG will withdraw from Manbij 30 days after the deal is signed, Anadolu said, quoting sources who attended meetings at which the decisions were made.
Turkish and U.S. military forces will start joint supervision in Manbij 45 days after the deal is signed and a local administration will be formed 60 days after June 4, Anadolu said.
Earlier Wednesday, Cavusoglu told broadcaster AHaber a timetable for the Manbij plans could be set during talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, and that it could be implemented before the end of the summer.
Cavusoglu was also quoted by media on his return flight from Germany saying that, if finalized, the plan for Manbij could be applied throughout northern Syria.
However, a local Manbij official later told Reuters that Cavusoglu’s assertions that U.S. and Turkish forces would temporarily control the region were “premature” and lacked credibility.
Meanwhile Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Pompeo spoke by phone on and discussed the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Lavrov and Pompeo agreed on the need to overcome differences in relations between Moscow and Washington, the ministry said.
Lavrov also said the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces from Syria’s southern border with Israel should happen as soon as possible, the TASS news agency reported. Rebels control stretches of southwest Syria, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, while Syrian army troops and allied Iran-backed militias hold nearby territory.
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