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US, Turkey Begin 'Coordinated, Independent' Patrols Near Manbij

FILE - In this April 4, 2018 file photo, a U.S. soldier sits on an armored vehicle at a newly installed position, near the tense front line between the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.

The United States has begun “coordinated but independent patrols” with Turkey near the volatile northern Syrian city of Manbij, the Pentagon confirmed to VOA on Monday.

“We are patrolling on one side and they are patrolling on the other,” defense spokesman Eric Pahon told VOA on Monday. “These patrols are not joint.”

Turkey’s armed forces confirmed the American and Turkish “independent patrol activities” via Twitter earlier in the day.

Pahon said the patrols were located west of the city near the forward line of troops, which separates Turkish-controlled areas from Manbij. The city is housing Kurdish militia fighters who Ankara says are anti-Turkey terrorists.

Pahon said the purpose of the patrols was to support “long-term security in Manbij” and uphold its commitments to NATO-ally Turkey.

Earlier this month, Turkey and the United States endorsed a “road map” to overcome months of dispute over the city.

The two countries have disagreed over U.S. support for the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist organization.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on June 11 that “collaboration” between the United States and Turkey along the forward line of troops would first include “patrols on each side saying, ‘Yes, I see you. You see me.’”

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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.