Erdoğan, Macron discuss Manbij roadmap agreed with US, regional issues

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published
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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held a phone call Saturday in which the two leaders discussed the roadmap for northern Syrian town of Manbij, recently agreed with the U.S., in addition to a number of regional and bilateral issues, sources from the Turkish presidency said.

Erdoğan pointed out that the agreement with the U.S. over Manbij could lead to a larger cooperation between Ankara and Washington in Syria.

The two leaders also discussed the recent developments in Syria, the fight against terrorism and the flight of migrants.

Erdoğan and Macron highlighted the importance of cooperation between Turkey and France in regional issues, and agreed to resume their close contact in the aftermath of the presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24.

Last Monday, a Manbij roadmap was announced after a meeting in Washington between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated the People's Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian city and stability in the region.

The process will involve a 10-day preparation period that started Tuesday June 5, before YPG militants start withdrawing. They will withdraw in 20 days, after which Turkish forces will be deployed to pacify the region and train local forces to establish security. The YPG will be withdrawing to the east of the Euphrates River.

Ankara has been long criticizing the U.S. on the grounds that Daesh cannot be defeated by supporting another terrorist group such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is predominantly led by the YPG.

Ankara stresses that U.S. arms support to these terrorist groups will create further instability in the region and calls for withdrawal of the groups from Syria in order to pave way for returning Syrians to their country.

U.S. military support for the YPG terrorist group in Manbij has strained ties between Ankara and Washington and has led to fears of military clashes between the two NATO allies since there are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in the city. On Jan. 20, Turkey initiated Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria to clear Daesh and PKK-linked terrorist groups, including the YPG and SDF, from the region. After liberating Syria's Afrin on March 18 alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Turkish forces pressed on toward the goal of eliminating all terrorists west of the Euphrates. The U.S., however, along with France, has intensified its military presence in Manbij, providing increased support for YPG-stocked SDF forces in northern Syria.

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