Turkey convinced the U.S. to accept an accelerated timetable for the withdrawal of the PKK-allied People's Protection Units (YPG) from the Syrian town of Manbij and the pacification of the region, which will be completed within three months rather than the six months the U.S. preferred.
The discussions took place on Monday in Washington, D.C. between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo where the two NATO allies agreed on a road map to resolve their differences. The U.S. support for the YPG against Daesh angered Turkey, which sees the PKK as the top national security threat. The process will involve a 10-day preparation period that started Tuesday June 5, before YPG militants start withdrawing. They will be withdrawn in 20 days, after which Turkish forces will be deployed to pacify the region and train local forces to establish security.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 east of the Euphrates River.
Wire services yesterday reported the spokesman from the Manbij Military Council, which is run by the YPG, said that they would not accept any Turkish military presence in the city, while another senior YPG official from east of the Euphrates said that the group intended to start a dialogue with the Assad regime to see whether it would be willing to accept an autonomous Kurdish area in the northeast.According to diplomatic sources in Ankara, Turkey has insisted that the process be repeated in Raqqa and east of the Euphrates after the completion of the Manbij plan. One source said that Turkey's successful Afrin operation that pushed back the YPG earlier this year persuaded Washington, D.C. to better cooperate with Ankara. "We had a sense that they do not want to lose Turkey. However they seem to feel pressure by the YPG on the field," sources added.
The U.S. confirms the deal, seeks 'peace' and 'stability' in Manbij Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department confirmed the road map. "They will move their parties east of the Euphrates as part of that agreement," U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters during the State Department's daily briefing on Tuesday. "I can just tell you that we agreed to - or there was an arrangement that we came to - with the government of Turkey in that regard and that overall road map," Nauert added, responding to a question on the positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group consisting of YPG forces. In addition, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell, speaking at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, said that the U.S. determinate to stabilize the relationship with Turkey and a permanent breach in the relationship would do multi-generational damage to U.S. national security. "It is a NATO ally with legitimate security concerns, including many that we share that we must help to address. We have sought to stabilize the relationship with concrete near-term objectives, constructing a modus vivendi to avoid a collision of our forces in northern Syria," he said.
According to the latest reports, the head of NATO yesterday said he welcomed a Turkish-U.S. agreement on a road map for Manbij, Syria. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's comment came during a press conference ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
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