U.S. and Turkey Agree on Kurds’ Withdrawal From Syrian Town

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Mehmet Akarca, head of Turkey’s General Directorate for Press and Information and an adviser to President Erdogan, said that Turkey would establish a base on the outskirts of Manbij, which lies close to the Turkish border, and maintain observer status alongside American forces. Turkey would not conduct any further military operations like the operation into Afrin, he said.

“The main thing is we do not want a terrorist presence just across our border,” he said. “They are right across the border, on the tip of our noses.”

“The deal is done. They will withdraw in coming days,” he said. “This is the right way to go, for America to deal with Turkey in a peaceful way.”

The deal will allow Mr. Erdogan to claim a significant victory in removing a Kurdish political and military presence that he has labeled a terrorist threat and would open up the Arab city of Manbij for Syrian refugees to return from Turkey.

The city is protected from Syrian government strikes by American air power, but many Arabs have been reluctant to live under the Kurdish-run administration, which among other things enforced military conscription.

The change of leadership could be fraught and could cause the displacement of civilians, however.

United States officials expressed concerns for Kurdish civilians in Manbij who may come under pressure to leave with the Kurdish forces, or could suffer from retaliation of returning Arabs, as happened in Afrin.

Much still remains to be worked out but joint patrols could probably start soon, Amanda Sloat, a senior fellow at Brookings and former foreign policy official in the Obama administration, said in emailed comments. “Decisions on vetting and personnel changes in security/governance structures will undoubtedly take longer — that is where implementation challenges could arise.”

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