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Turkey, US agree plans to remove YPG from Syria’s Manbij

Kurdish fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) carry their weapons as they take positions in the northeastern city of Hasaka, Syria, August 20 2016 REUTERS/Rodi Said
YPG fighters in Hasaka, Syria on 20 August 2016 [REUTERS/Rodi Said]

Turkey and the US have agreed on a plan to remove Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian city of Manbij. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington yesterday.

This deal comes as a relief to both countries who have not always seen eye to eye when it came to the YPG. Ankara considers the group a “terrorist” organsiation, while Washington views it as a key ally in the fight against Daesh.  Negotiations had been on going between Ankara and Washington on how best to resolve their differences.

Last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had threatened to push Turkey’s operations against the YPG further east to Manbij where US trooped are stationed, risking confrontation between the allies.

‘US won’t withdraw from Syria unless peace achieved’

However, Ankara and Washington reached an understanding over Manbij under which the militants would leave the area. The two countries have now agreed on a roadmap for the removal of the YPG.

“I am pleased that we have achieved considerable progress on the YPG/PKK and we expect concrete results for our meeting with Secretary Pompeo this morning,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by the Anadolu Agency.

A joint statement by the top diplomats said the agreements “includes steps to ensure the security and stability” there.

“They endorsed a roadmap to this end and underlined their mutual commitment to its implementation, reflecting their agreement to closely follow developments on the ground,” it said. The statement, however, did not unveil details regarding the plan or its timetable.

It still remains to be seen if relations between Ankara and Washington begin to mend. In addition to the their differences over Syria, relations have also been tested over the extradition Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan whose supporters are blamed for trying to overthrow the Turkish president’s government in July 2016. The jailing of a Turkish banker also fuelled the diplomatic feud between the two NATO allies.

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