Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hami Aksoy confirmed Thursday that the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate the Democratic Union Party (PYD)'s armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) had withdrawn from areas jointly patrolled by Turkey and the U.S. in Syria's Manbij as part of an agreement signed back in June.
In line with the agreement reached with the U.S., Turkey has been expecting a complete withdrawal of the YPG terrorists in Manbij and surrounding areas. U.S. military support for the YPG in Manbij had strained ties between Ankara and Washington and led to fears of a confrontation between the two NATO allies since there were roughly 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in the city.
A road map for Manbij was announced following a meeting in Washington between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early June.
The first patrols by Turkish and U.S. troops in the region began on June 18.
On the topic of Syria, Aksoy said Turkey also strongly condemns regime attacks targeting de-escalation zones in southern Syria.
Aksoy recalled the civilian deaths in Daraa and Quneitra and said: "We strongly condemn and damn these attacks. These attacks sabotage the Astana and Geneva efforts on reducing violence and finding political solution to the crisis."
"We do not want the scenario experienced in Eastern Ghouta, Northern Homs and now in southwestern Syria to be also experienced in Idlib," he added.
Aksoy also recalled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on July 14, saying if the regime advances toward Idlib, Astana agreement would dissipate.
He stressed that the regime tries to find solution to crisis via military means and said such ways would not lead to "legitimate ruling."
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Following peace talks held last year in Astana, Daraa and Quneitra were both designated as "de-escalation zones" in which acts of aggression are prohibited.
The spokesperson also said Turkey had urged the U.S. to not delay matters pertaining to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and its leader Fetullah Gülen during a working group meeting on July 13.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Gülen are behind the July 15, 2016 defeated coup, which killed 251 people and injured 2,200, as well as a wide-ranging conspiracy in the military, police, and judiciary.
He noted the matters pertaining to extradition of FETÖ leader Gülen, the U.S. trial of former Halkbank Deputy CEO Mehmet Hakan Atilla, judicial cooperation between the two countries and imprisoned U.S. citizens in Turkey were discussed during the recent working group meeting.
Following a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February, Turkey and the U.S. established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including the stabilization of Manbij and to prevent undesirable clashes.
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