Turkey is ready to take over security in the Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Manbij, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Erdogan’s office says the president spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump by telephone Sunday, days after an Islamic State attack in the city killed 19 people, including three U.S. service members and an American military contractor.
Erdogan told Trump the attack was a “provocation” aimed at affecting his decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria.
The White House did not specifically mention Erdogan’s comments about Manbij other than saying the two presidents “agreed to continue to pursue a negotiated solution for northeast Syria that achieves our respective security concerns.”
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and its Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), control Manbij.
Turkey says the YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting a long separatist war for more Kurdish autonomy inside Turkey.
Turkey considers both the YPG and PKK terrorist groups. The Kurdish militia fears Turkey will carry out a military assault on it as soon as the U.S. pulls out.
Trump has proposed a safe zone in the region but has yet to provide any details.
Turkey does not want any Kurdish-controlled territory on its border and has said any safe zone must be cleared of Kurds.
White House bureau chief Steve Herman contributed to this report.