The Turkish Armed Forces and the Russian Military Police conducted their first joint patrol around the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which is held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Enab Baladi news outlet reported on February 14.
The Syrian outlet’s reporter said that the joint Turkish-Russian force patrolled the villages of Ayn Daqnah, Maraanaz and Menagh, northwest and west of Manbij.
A commander in the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) confirmed Enab Balad’s report. However, the Manbij Military Council (MMC), which is loyal to the SDF, is yet to comment on the issue.
The Russian Military Police established a field base few kilometers to the southwest of Manbij earlier this year. The forces also began conducting patrols with units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), which had been deployed around the city, and the MMC.
Last year, Turkey and the U.S. agreed on a roadmap that was set to allow Turkish-vetted forces to get control of Manbij. The plan faced several setbacks as Kurdish forces didn’t comply with it. The situation became even more complex following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Despite these setbacks, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin stressed a week ago that Anakra and Moscow have come to terms that a roadmap on Syria’s Manbij should be implemented.
“We have reached an agreement with Russia that the roadmap on Manbij should be implemented in the way we had agreed on with the United States,” the spokesman told the state-run news agency Anadolu.
The Turkish-Russian joint patrol is likely the first step in implementing the roadmap on Manbij. However, it remains unclear if local forces and the SDF are willing to cooperate this time.