The recent tension between two NATO allies, Turkey and the U.S., has raised questions regarding the implementation of a key road map in Syria's Manbij. Despite the political tension, the Pentagon reiterated Monday its commitment to implementing the deal, as similar statements came from the Turkish side as well.
"Our military-to-military relationship [with Turkey] is something that we remain committed to," Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said. He added that the two sides have been working on complementing the Manbij road map and ways of simplifying it.
Manning highlighted that the meeting last week between Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, head of U.S. European Command, and Gen. Yaşar Güler, Turkish chief of general staff, was evidence of that commitment. He stressed that Turkey is a close ally and its concerns are respected.
The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian city and establishing stability in the region. Accordingly, the two sides will conduct joint and independent patrolling and monitor the withdrawal of the YPG from the region.
However, the ties between the two countries took a dip with the U.S.' decision to impose sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers over the detention of terror-linked U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson. Yet, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan voiced Turkey's expectations that the deal be implemented without being affected by other problems between the countries.
Turkey has criticized the U.S.' partnership with the YPG and its fluid definition of the terrorist group on the ground. Ankara had been stressing that the YPG is a Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been targeting the national security of Turkey, while the U.S. described it as essential partner in the fight against the Daesh. Turkey's strong opposition to the terrorist groups along its borders prompted the Manbij deal with the U.S.
In relation to the implementation of the deal, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Eric Pahon also said Monday that the Manbij road map was created after negotiations between the two sides, but it did not include many details. As the details need to be ironed out before starting joint operations, Pahon underlined that a mutual understanding regarding how the two sides would function in a joint operation should be reached. He added that they expect training for joint operations to start in four to six weeks.
Stressing that the preparations take time, Manning also said they will not put security at risk by taking early steps.