Senior officials from the U.S. State Department on Tuesday said the aim of a roadmap drawn up by Ankara and Washington is to stabilize the Syrian city of Manbij, APA reports quoting AA.
The officials gave details via a teleconference call to reporters in Washington of the meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo held on Monday.
Avoiding a clear response on the specifics of the roadmap timeframe, the officials noted it would proceed step by step and hoped that necessary steps would be taken as soon as possible as the NATO ally Turkey also desires it.
Emphasizing that the purpose of the roadmap is to clear Manbij from the terrorists and to ensure the security and stability of the city, Cavusoglu on Monday 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 the establishment of joint U.S.-Turkish patrols and a new local governing administration based on the local population.
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.
The first meeting of the working group on Syria was held on March 8-9 in Washington.
Officials during the conference call also said the YPG/PKK would withdraw to the eastern side of the Euphrates river.
About the outcome of the PKK-affiliated YPG withdrawing from Manbij, officials said everyone would benefit from this process because the goal is to defuse tension and stabilize the region.
"The idea behind this is not for the U.S. or Turkey to take over Manbij," they added. "The idea is for the people of Manbij to reassert their leadership over both governance and security structures there."
In addition, officials also said the purpose of the deal is to not hand over the city to Turkey or the U.S., it is for the local people to be able to establish their own leadership and ensure their security.
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 was resolved, it would address part of a major issue dividing Ankara and Washington. Turkey has long objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PYD/PKK, the target of Turkey’s recent Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria.
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.