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US-Turkey to Conduct Joint Patrols in Syria, Pentagon Head Mattis Says

© REUTERS / Yuri GripasU.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing on the campaign to defeat ISIS at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gestures during a press briefing on the campaign to defeat ISIS at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States and Turkey will start joint military patrols in Syria in a matter of weeks, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters on Friday.

"I mean, you got to do the training… I think that we’re talking about weeks," Mattis said. "I don’t know how many. Two, four, six, but I don’t think we’re talking months."

A U.S. mine detector armored vehicle, leads a convoy of U.S. troops, on a road leading to the tense front line with Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij town, north Syria, Saturday, March 31, 2018 - Sputnik International
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Mattis noted there are already Turkish and US patrols on the ground, but they are separate.

"It’s already happening on opposite sides where the two of the patrols go along, and they get to certain points, they wait for the other one to get there," Mattis said. "If somebody gets there first and then they do recognition signals back and forth and they move onto the next one."

Mattis explained all the conditions for establishing joint patrols are being set for them to go forward, and the Turkish and US militaries have put together all the planning while the training equipment has landed at the Incirlik air base in Turkey.

"I can’t give you a hard and fast timeline, but it’ll be good training. Both on the Turkish side and on the Coalition side, we agree that this is necessary to make sure that what we do with these patrols is stabilize the line and not inadvertently rush forward into it and you don’t have trained people, so it’s going very, very well," Mattis said.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, mourners attend a mass funeral of people killed a day earlier by a series of suicide bombings launched by the Islamic State's fighters on the eastern and northern countryside of the southern province of al-Sweida during a in al-Sweida, Syria, Thursday, July 26, 2018 - Sputnik International
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On June 18, Turkish and US forces began patrolling in Manbij as part of the implementation of their plan to normalize the situation in the city. Earlier on Friday, the forces completed the tenth round of patrols in the area, according to Anadolu.

The Syrian government has repeatedly stated that the presence of Turkish and US forces is a violation of Syrian sovereignty. Neither the United States nor Turkey have obtained a UN Security Council mandate to operate in Syria.

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