US says no agreement with Turkey on Syria's Manbij yet
“We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey. We announced previously that the United States and the Turkish working group met...in Ankara [on May 25],” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said during a daily press briefing.
“We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern. The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” Nauert said.
U.S. military support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group for its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has strained ties between the two NATO allies. There are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in Manbij, according to Anadolu Agency.
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 any undesirable clashes.
Nauert also said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu are set to meet in Washington on June 4.
The first meeting of the working group on Syria was held on March 8-9 in Washington.
In January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northern Syria to clear YPG from the area, before it said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij unless the YPG leaves the strategically located city.