US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the United States is currently working with trainers and it would be followed by a few weeks of training with Turkish troops before the joint patrols start.
Turkey and the United States have started training together to carry out joint patrols soon in northern Syria’s Manbij area, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, despite tense relations between the two countries.
As agreed by the two NATO allies in June, Turkish and US forces are currently carrying out patrols in Manbij, but those are independent of each other. Training is the last step before the two countries carry out joint patrols.
Last month, Ankara said joint patrols and training for those would begin soon.
“The training now is underway and we’ll just have to see how that goes,” Mattis told reporters travelling with him to Paris.
“We have every reason to believe the joint patrols will be coming on time, when the training syllabus is complete so that we do it right,” Mattis added.
He said the United States was currently working with trainers and it would be followed by a few weeks of training with Turkish troops before the joint patrols started.
The training will take place in Turkey.
Turkey has been infuriated with US support for the YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK which Turkey, the US and EU consider a terrorist organisation.
Prior to the June agreement, Turkey had threatened to push on with a ground offensive against the YPG in Manbij despite the presence of US troops there.
Turkey’s detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson on terrorism charges has also hit relations between Ankara and Washington.
US President Donald Trump authorised a doubling of duties on aluminium and steel imported from Turkey in August over the Brunson issue. Turkey responded by increasing tariffs on US cars, alcohol and tobacco imports.