US says Manbij road map unaffected by row with Turkey

WASHINGTON (AA) – An ongoing row between Turkey and the U.S. has not affected a bilateral agreement about the northern Syrian city of Manbij, the State Department's acting Middle East chief said Friday.

Addressing reporters on a conference call on Syria, David Satterfield said "there has been no impact" on the plan from the spike in tensions.

"The proceeding upon the Manbij roadmap by all parties involved has been smooth and extremely encouraging. There has been no consequence or impact that we can discern of the other bilateral issues in play here," Satterfield said.

Relations between the NATO allies have soured in recent weeks following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on Turkish officials over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey on terrorism charges.

President Donald Trump last week ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.

On Wednesday, in retaliation, Turkey increased tariffs on several U.S.-origin products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated YPG terror group from the city in order to stabilize the region.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including many women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

Should the Manbij model prove a success, Turkey will push for a similar arrangement in eastern Syria.

Turkey has said the presence of terror forces near its border constitutes a threat and has launched military operations and other efforts to rid the region of terrorists.

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