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Turkey state media says US 'setting up bases in Syria's Manbij'

Turkey's state-run news agency said the United States is setting up two military bases and has increased its presence in the Manbij region of northern Syria.

Published: 03rd April 2018 10:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th April 2018 12:34 AM   |  A+A-

File photo, U.S. soldiers patrolling near the military base. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

ANKARA: Turkey's state-run news agency Tuesday said the United States is setting up two military bases and has increased its presence in the Manbij region of northern Syria, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to attack.

The Anadolu news agency gave precise locations of the bases, with tensions between Ankara and Washington still high over Turkey's operation against Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

Manbij is still held by the People's Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia, who Turkey last month ousted from the Afrin region to the west.

The YPG is seen as a terror group by Turkey but has been a key US ally in the fight against jihadists in Syria. Washington has maintained a low-key presence on the ground to assist them.

Citing "trustworthy local sources" in Manbij, Anadolu said one base would be set up in the village of Dadat eight kilometres (5 miles) from Sajur River. 

The other base is being built four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the "frontline" where YPG control ends south of Dadat.

Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to expand Turkey's operation in Syria to Manbij, raising fears of a confrontation with the forces of NATO ally the United States.

Anadolu said that 300 American troops had arrived to reinforce Manbij in anticipation of a possible Turkish operation.

This is not the first time Anadolu has revealed details of alleged American positions in northern Syria.

In July 2017 it published an article giving details on US bases in Syria with information on troop numbers and aircraft. 

Washington expressed grave concern but Turkish officials expressed indignation at the notion the information had been leaked from official sources.

Turkey and the United States had in March established working groups aimed at defusing the situation over Manbij.

However the abrupt departure from office of former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and the tapping of hardliner Mike Pompeo as his successor has put this on hold for now.

On Friday, Anadolu also published a story saying that 100 French special forces soldiers were deployed at five bases in YPG-controlled areas in Syria. The French army declined to comment.



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