November 3, 2018 / 03:48 PM
Turkey-U.S. start joint patrols in Kurdish-held northern Syria

Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in northern Syria on Thursday aimed at averting clashes between Turkey and Washington’s Kurdish allies, but Turkey pressed on with a new threatened offensive nearby to crush the Kurds.

The two countries have been working to avert direct confrontation, even as Turkey aims to crush the Kurdish YPG militia. The YPG forms the main part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that Washington backs with arms, air support and around 2,000 special forces troops on the ground in the fight against Islamic State.

Turkey’s defence minister and the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria confirmed the start of the patrols in Manbij, about 30 km from the Turkish border, on Thursday. Previously, U.S. and Turkish forces have held coordinated but separate patrols there.

A Reuters journalist saw a convoy of six military vehicles, some flying the U.S. flag and others flying the Turkish flag, driving on Thursday about 20 km from Manbij city.

The patrols are taking place along the dividing line between territory controlled by the SDF-allied Manbij Military Council and a Turkish-controlled area in northern Syria.

Reporter’s code: 50101