U.S. and Turkish troops are expected to begin conducting joint military patrols in the next few days around the Syrian city of Manbij, the Pentagon’s top commander for the Middle East says.
Army General Joseph Votel, who is head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters that the patrols will begin after training for the mission is completed. That is expected to last "several more days," he added.
Manbij is held by a U.S.-backed alliance dominated by a Kurdish militia considered by Ankara to be "terrorists,” and Turkey in the past has threatened to attack the city to clear out the fighters, who were instrumental in defeating Islamic State (IS) militants in 2016.
The patrols are part of an agreement set in June by Washington and Ankara to ease tensions in the region near the Turkish border.
U.S. and Turkish troops previously have been conducting separate patrols in the border region.
"We're right on track with where we want to be," Votel said. "We've been through a very deliberate and mutually agreed upon training program."
He did not specify the size of the patrols or what weapons they might feature.
Turkey and the United States support different antigovernment rebels in Syria's seven-year civil war, while Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Islamic State (IS) and other militant groups have also been involved in the fighting but have mainly been driven from their strongholds.