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Syrians have returned to 'Euphrates Shield' area - Turkey

Syrians have returned to 'Euphrates Shield' area - Turkey

US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units fighters, drive their armored vehicles on April 28, 2017, near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey.

The U.S. expressed "great concern" over Turkey's shelling of U.S. -backed Kurdish fighters in an area of northern Syria where American forces are embedded, an offensive that has added a new strain to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies' already rocky ties.

The YPG claimed a photo showed its forces destroying a Turkish military vehicle near Kobane on Wednesday morning.

Turkish and USA troops patrolled around the Saju Stream, which separates the Manbij frontline from the city of Jarabulus, an area falling under Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, according to media on the ground.

"We have completed all preparations for the east of the Euphrates".

A designated and bilaterally agreed upon ground force commander will lead the joint patrols, the US-led coalition said.

The SDF now controls more than a quarter of Syrian territory after its Kurdish dominated forces beat back IS jihadists with U.S. support over the past three years. There are about 2,000 US Special Forces in Syria advising the SDF, as well as several hundred French troops. It was the second time this week Turkish artillery targeted Kurdish positions in northeast Syria, an area where troops of the USA -led coalition are also based.

Turkey considers the militia a terror threat and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency within Turkey.

Russian state-affiliated news agency Sputnik quoted Pentagon spokesperson Sean Robertson as saying that the usa was "in touch" with both Turkey and the SDF to "de-escalate the situation" on Tuesday.

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"Unilateral military strikes into northwest Syria by any party, particularly as American personnel may be present or in the vicinity, are of great concern to us", US State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters on Wednesday.

Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Kurdistan 24 Turkey's attack on Tal Abyad and Kobani was "a message to the United States that it has to remove the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] from all of Turkey's border region, even east of the Euphrates". The continuation of Turkish attacks, the group said, would further delay the offensive on the ISIS-held pocket of Hajin.

According to Turkish state news Anadolu Agency, at least four YPG fighters were killed and another six injured during the day's clashes.

In early June, Ankara and Washington adopted a road map envisaging the Kurdish forces' withdrawal from Manbij and the transfer of control over the Syrian city to Turkish and U.S. troops. Manbij is on the west side of the Euphrates.

Turkish and coalition military forces have conducted over 60 independent, coordinated patrols outside of Manbij since June 2018.

In a sign that neither side wants the situation to escalate, Turkish and USA forces started joint patrols in rural areas of the northwestern Syrian town of Manbij, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.

SDF forces have dug trenches around Manbij and other areas near the Turkish border.

"The terror organization should know that they will be buried in the trenches when the time and place comes", Akar said.


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