Syria conflict: U.S. and Turkey agree to avert Manbij clash

Syria conflict: U.S. and Turkey agree to avert Manbij clash

While relations between Washington and its main Muslim ally in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have been strained by a number of issues, Turkey has been particularly infuriated by USA support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as terrorists.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pose for a photo before their talks at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018.

The official, who declined to be identified because the information had not been made public, said the United States was considering the proposal, which was made to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his two-day visit to Ankara.

"We are not going to act alone any longer, not United States doing one thing, Turkey doing another", Tillerson said in Ankara after talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

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"We're going to act together from this point forward".

The US's backing of Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) militia - deemed to be a terrorist organisation by Turkey - has exacerbated tensions considerably between the two countries.

Cavusoglu said Turkey and the USA were agreed on the need to normalise relations.

The US Secretary of State says United Nations isn't going to act alone any longer.

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"As I said before, our relations are at a critical turning point", Tillerson said. US officials said one idea to be considered is to place Turkish troops alongside American soldiers stationed in northern Syria in order to improve transparency.

The US has "armed, trained and aided Kurdish fighters with air support and special forces, as the main ground force in its campaign against Islamic State", says Reuters.

Ankara has long called for YPG forces to move east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

However, the USA has used the YPG as a key ally in its battle against Islamic State in Syria, and in the last week has defended it against attacks by pro-Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzor.

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The US and Turkey, whose forces are at loggerheads in northern Syria, have agreed to try to defuse the crisis.

Analysts say the level of tension was similar to 2003 when Turkey refused to let USA troops operate from its territory for the Iraq war, or even the aftermath of Ankara's invasion of Cyprus in 1974. "So that will be a topic of discussion in terms of how we go forward to ensure Manbij remains within our control because of its strategic importance". Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's rhetoric has been calmer, urging both sides to engage in diplomatic efforts to fix ties before they get any worse.

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