On November 1, Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar announced that Turkish and U.S. troops conducted their first joint patrol north of the city of Manbij as part of the Turkish-US agreement, which was reached in May.
“The joint patrols of Turkish and U.S. troops — on which we have made plans and completed training and which we said would start — began at 3:53 p.m. local time [1353GMT],” Hulusi Akar said during a speech in the Turkish Parliament.
According to the Anadolu Agency, the joint patrol was conducted around the Saju Stream, which separates the Turkish-held city of Jarabulus from Manbij, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Turkish-US agreement is not limited to joint patrols around Manbij. Under the agreement, a pro-Turkey local administration should be formed in the city after the withdrawal of all Kurdish fighters. However, this is yet to happen.
Despite of this delay, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that the agreement on the Manbij is “not completely dead.” The statement was clearly aimed at pressuring Washington.
The U.S. decision to conduct the joint patrols now is likely aimed at easing the current tension between Turkey and the SDF. The last few days witnessed several attacks by the Turkish military on positions of the US-backed group along the border. As a result, the SDF halted its operation against ISIS.