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Mattis: Training for Joint Patrols with Turkey in Syria to Start Soon

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, speaks to reporters at the Pentagon, July 27, 2018.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says equipment has landed at a base in Turkey to prepare Turkish troops for joint patrols with U.S. forces in northern Syria.

"Training equipment has landed in Incirlik," Mattis told reporters Friday at the Pentagon, referring to a strategic air base in southern Turkey used by American forces.

Mattis said the training should start within weeks.

"I don’t think we’re talking months," he said.

It is unclear when U.S. and Turkish forces would start conducting the joint patrols in Syria once training of Turkey's troops is complete.

Last month, the United States began "coordinated but independent patrols" with Turkey near the volatile northern Syrian city of Manbij.

The city houses Kurdish militia fighters. Washington supports the Kurdish fighters there, while Ankara says they are anti-Turkey terrorists.

The Pentagon says the purpose of the patrols are to support "long-term security in Manbij" and uphold its commitments to NATO-ally Turkey.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.