The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mixed Arab-Kurdish force led by the YPG Kurdish militia, said Turkish attacks in the northern Kobane region had forced units "to stop our current operation temporarily" against the last IS strongholds near the border with Iraq. It was the second time this week Turkish artillery targeted Kurdish positions in northeast Syria, an area where troops of the US -led coalition are also based. Ankara and Washington agreed on a roadmap in June amid Turkish demands for the withdrawal of the USA -backed Kurdish militia that freed Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016.
US support for the Kurdish-led forces has resulted in increased tension between Washington and Ankara. "We can come suddenly any night", he said. The US considers the PKK a terrorist organization, but not the YPG or SDF. "Unilateral military strikes into north-west Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said. The campaign against ISIS "is not over and that fight remains hard", he said.
Kurdish news agency Hawar News reported that the joint patrols took place 19 kilometers from the city with three U.S. and three Turkish vehicles, starting from the village of Arab Hassan.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, also said the patrols would follow days of Turkish shelling of positions of the main Kurdish militia.
The SDF said Wednesday that it fired back in self-defense, and "as a result, a Turkish military vehicle was destroyed".
"Coalition and Turkish military forces started combined patrols northwest of Manbij today", Army Colonel Sean Ryan, Spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said in a public statement.
When asked whether Kurdish fighters in eastern Syria would be recalled to the north to boost defences, the YPG spokesman said there were enough fighters in the Kobani region to foil a Turkish attack, but fighters would be recalled if needed. Conducting joint patrols is seen as a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups in the area.
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"We are aware of Turkish statements about a planned offensive into northeast Syria and have been in touch with Turkey and the SDF to de-escalate the situation", he added, while saying that the U.S. military was "working closely with the SDF who are in the midst of offensive operations against ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley", calling the USA allies "a committed partner against ISIS".
Ankara and Washington agreed on a road map to stabilize Manbij earlier that month, amid Turkish demands for the withdrawal of Kurdish militia who helped push Islamic State from the city in 2016.
The Manbij Military Council that administers the town says the last Kurdish fighters left Manbij in July.
Earlier this week, Erdogan increased threats to launch a major offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters near the Euphrates River.
Instead of idling around in Manbij, we are determined to turn our focus and energy to the east of the Euphrates.
"The terror organization should know that they will be buried in the trenches when the time and place comes", Akar said.