Erdogan: Turkey ready to ensure security of Manbij
Turkey is ready to take over ensuring the security of Manbij in northern Syria in order "not to lose time," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a phone call with US counterpart Donald Trump.
Manbij, controlled by Kurdish fighters supported by the US military, had been hit on Wednesday by an attack claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) which killed 19 people, including four Americans.
In their second phone conversation in less than a week, Erdogan told Trump that this attack was a "provocation" aiming to impact the decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, the state news agency Anadolu reported.
Turkey has been threatening for months to launch an offensive in Manbij to drive out the militia of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG however has been backed by the United States in the fight against the IS jihadists.
But Ankara considers the YPG a "terrorist organisation" and doesn't want to see installed along its border, an embryonic Kurdish state which might reinforce the PKK separatists inside Turkey.
To lower tensions, Turkey and the US last May agreed a road map including the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij and installing joint Turkish-American patrols, which began in November.
The two NATO allies are also looking to create a "security zone" aiming to separate the territories held by the YPG from the Turkish border.
Erdogan and Trump on Sunday agreed to speed up the discussions under way between generals of both countries to establish this zone, Anadolu said