US presence in Manbij 'subject to political discussion'
The U.S. presence in the Syrian city of Manbij is now subject to "political discussion and policy determination", an anti-Daesh coalition spokesperson said on Tuesday while referring to a roadmap drawn up by Ankara and Washington to stabilize the city, APA reports quoting AA.
Speaking through video conference, CJTF-Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs Director Col. Thomas Veale said: "Coalition troops have been there for quite some time and they are conducting security operations.
"They are not forward presence. This is not like the Korean Demilitarized Zone...Future of that mission, again, that's subject to political discussion and policy determination."
Noting that there has not been any operational changes in Manbij, Veale said the coalition is a conditions-based organization which accords with conditions on the ground.
Many U.S. officials, including head of CJTF-Operation Inherent Resolve Paul E. Funk, have repeatedly said the U.S. will not withdraw from Manbij.
However, Veale's remark came a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo met and affirmed that a joint Manbij-focused roadmap shows a drastic shift over its policy on Manbij.
Stating that the results of the roadmap drawn up by the two countries have yet to be understood, Veale noted that the U.S. acknowledges the valid security concern of Turkey, which is a coalition member and a valued NATO partner.
"So working closely with them through these discussions is exactly the right approach to this issue," he added.
Emphasizing that the purpose of the roadmap is to clear Manbij from terrorists and ensure the security and stability of the city, Cavusoglu said the roadmap would be implemented in three stages, which would focus on the removal of YPG/PKK forces from Manbij, the removal of YPG/PKK affiliated individuals from local governing organizations, and establishing joint U.S.-Turkish patrols and a new local governing administration based on the local population.
It is important that much of the Manbij Military Council is made up of local Arabs and it will remain as it is and cooperate with Turks so that Turks will be more comfortable in the process of making long-term adjustments, the officials added.
If the Manbij issue gets resolved, it would address part of a major issue dividing Ankara and Washington. Turkey has for long objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PYD/PKK, the target of Turkey’s recent Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria.
About claims the U.S. has also deployed troops near Sinjar in northern Iraq, Veale refuted the claims, saying that the military convoy just passed through the region on its way to Syria.
About his response to Turkey's military operations against the PKK terrorist organization in northern Iraq, Veale noted the operations have been conducted in a close cooperation with Iraqi government.
The YPG/PKK and PYD/PKK are Syrian offshoots of the PKK terror group, which has taken some 40,000 lives in its 30-year terrorist campaign against the Turkish state, including those of women and children.
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