US forces setting up a new base in Manbij, Syria. Photo: Reuters/Rodi Said
US forces setting up a new base in Manbij, Syria. Photo: Reuters/Rodi Said

The US State Department pushed back Tuesday on media reports indicating that a deal had been reached with Turkey regarding the fate of US-backed Turkish militias in the northeastern Syrian city of Manbij.

“We don’t have any agreements yet with the government of Turkey. We announced previously that the United States and the Turkish working group met […] in Ankara,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

“We’re continuing to have ongoing conversations regarding Syria and other issues of mutual concern. The two sides then had outlined the contours of a roadmap for further cooperation, and that includes on Manbij,” Nauert said.

Roadmap to be unveiled next week?
Discussions on the issue, which are centered on US support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization, will continue when Turkey’s foreign minister travels to Washington next week, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Earlier media reports had said that the US agreed on a plan for the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij.

“On June 4 we may announce a roadmap with a solid timeline. We will make a joint statement that includes concrete steps on that day. The concrete step is that the YPG will be removed. Turkey and the US will determine together on who will govern and protect the province,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as telling reporters on Tuesday.

“The step we’ll take in Manbij will bring about a reduction in the bilateral tension. It will also create the basis of future steps between the two countries as it will help us to establish confidence,” he said.

Çavuşoğlu added that the US has indicated a willingness to cooperate on strategic issues related to the Kurds outside of Syria.

“I sense that [US officials] want to break this tie between the YPG and Kandil,” he said, referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is headquartered in the Kandil Mountains of Iraq.