Trump and Erdogan discuss northern Syria, says Turkish presidency

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump discussed Manbij and Idlib in northern Syria in a call on Thursday and stressed their determination to strengthen ties, Erdogan’s office said.

Turkish and US forces began joint patrols on Thursday in the Manbij region, a source of friction in recent years after Kurdish forces took part of the area in a US-backed offensive to drive out ISIS extremist group in 2016.

“Our President and US President Trump stressed their determination to take constructive steps towards strengthening US-Turkey bilateral relations further,” the statement said, while also referring to developments in Syria’s Idlib region.

Turkey, which has long backed militants seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Russia, Assad’s principal foreign ally, brokered a deal in September to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib.

US-Turkish relations have been strained by disputes over Syria, Iran and Ankara’s planned purchase of Russian military equipment. Prospects of improving ties rose last month after a Turkish court freed US pastor Andrew Brunson from two years of detention.

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