ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s military said Thursday that Turkish and U.S. officials, meeting in Germany, have reached an agreement on a plan for the strategic Syrian town of Manbij that was a source of tension between the NATO allies.
A military statement said Turkish and U.S. military officials met at the U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart on June 12 and 13 and reached an agreement on a “Manbij Implementation Plan.” It said the plan would be discussed by senior officials from the two countries, but provided no details.
Turkey and the U.S. have offered differing descriptions of their roadmap for Manbij, but a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia group is expected to retreat to the east of the Euphrates River, meeting a long-standing Turkish demand.
Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S. to stop backing the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it considers terrorists and an extension of a Kurdish insurgency within its own borders.
The U.S.-backed force has been instrumental in fighting the Islamic State group and pushing them out of northern Syria, including in Manbij.
The agreement came as an international human rights group said Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters have seized, looted and destroyed property of Kurdish civilians in the northern Kurdish region of Afrin.
Human Rights Watch said the rebels have installed fighters and their families in residents’ homes and destroyed and looted civilian properties without compensating the owners.
Priyanka Motaparthy, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, was quoted in the report as saying that “destroying or moving into the property of people who have had to flee the fighting is not what the Free Syrian Army fighters should be doing when they move into an area.”
HRW said Turkey and the rebel groups in Afrin should compensate displaced residents whose property they have seized, destroyed, or looted, and should not permanently deprive residents of their property.
Turkey launched an air and ground offensive in the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin on Jan. 20, and captured most of it two months later.