Syrian Kurds counter Ankara’s claims on Manbij

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian Kurdish officials are denying Turkish statements that a joint U.S.-Turkish force will replace a Kurdish militia deployed in the Syrian town of Manbij.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, claimed that under an agreement with Washington, the Syrian Kurdish militia will leave and Turkish soldiers with U.S. troops will ensure the town’s security.

The U.S. State Department provided no such details. It said Washington and Ankara are committed to working out outstanding issues and that detailed discussions are still underway and still require approval.

Syrian Kurdish officials denied the Turkish reports.

Shervan Darwish, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, said members of the militia known as the YPG left the town soon after it was liberated from Islamic State militants in 2016. Darwish says local forces are now in charge in Manbij and work closely with the U.S.-led coalition, including in joint patrols.

Turkey is riled by U.S. support to the YPG, and accuses the U.S. of allegedly not fulfilling a promise to move the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Manbij east of the Euphrates River.