US and Turkey rehearse joint patrols for Manbij, discuss Syria diaspora, refugees

The US Embassy in Syria has put out a readout and tweeted about recent developments between the US and Turkey as well as the joint patrols. “Special Rep. for Syria Engagement Amb. Jeffrey and Special Envoy Rayburn visited Gaziantep on Dec. 8 to meet with U.S. and Turkish military officials, Syrian refugees, civil society actors, and political groups working on Syria. Read more:”

It goes on to note “Jeffrey & Rayburn visited the site of US & Turkish military rehearsals for joint patrols in fulfillment of the Manbij roadmap & discussed with US &Turkish military officials the importance of the unique military cooperation between US & Turkey in resolving the conflict in Syria…Amb Jeffrey and DAS Rayburn also met with a number of civil society actors, including from NGOs implementing stabilization projects in Syria, and Syrian refugees, where they reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to Syrians. Throughout, Amb Jeffrey and DAS Rayburn discussed issues facing the Syrian diaspora and the necessity for a Syrian-led and -owned political process under U.N. Security Council resolution 2254.”

The statement has several points that indicate the US attempt to foster closer relations with Turkey as the war on ISIS appears to wind down in Hajin. They mention “stabilization” and NGOs. The discussion of NGOs in Turkey may indicate a larger Turkey-based role in this concept of “stabilization.” They also discussed “Syrian diaspora” which appears to indicate they want Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey to play more of a role, which could indicate what Turkey has been pushing for, a role in Manbij and Tel Abyad. It also appears to indicate that when the US says “Syria-led and owned” process that may not include the SDF or Kurds in Syria or may include the US pushing for more of a mix of groups, including those supported by Turkey. This lack fo clarity has been part of the bedrock of US policy in eastern Syria.

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