Backed Syrian Kurdish fighters on alert for Turkish attack

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to indirectly confirm reports that the Turkish military fired artillery shells at YPG positions in northern Syria on Sunday

On Wednesday, the SDF said the Turkish attacks had forced it to suspend its USA -backed campaign against Islamic State near the Iraqi border.

Turkish officials say U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to take "constructive steps" toward strengthening ties.

Turkey's state-run news agency says the Turkish military has shelled positions held by US -backed Kurdish fighters across the border east of the Euphrates River in Syria, killing four Kurdish fighters and wounding six others.

However, even as the joint patrols were due to begin this week, Turkey announced a new offensive against the Kurds on the opposite bank of the river, into territory where the SDF has U.S. troop support.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its links to the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

Washington s support of the Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria has strained already tense relations between North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies Turkey and the US.

Throughout the over seven-year-long war in Syria, Turkey has made it clear it won't tolerate a growing Kurdish influence in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

Moreover, both fighters from the Manbij Military Council (MMC) and the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield forces were prevented from being present on the front line.

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On Sunday, the Turkish military fired artillery shells at US-backed Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) positions in the east of the Euphrates.

The YPG forms the main part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that Washington backs with arms, air support and around 2,000 special forces troops on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State group (IS).

In a sign that neither side wants the situation to escalate, Turkish and USA forces started joint patrols in rural areas of the northwestern Syrian town of Manbij, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.

Turkey has been targeting position in Syria held by USA -allied Y.P.G. forces.

"After Manbij, our next venue will be east of the Euphrates", Akar pointed out. "We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue", he told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party in parliament.

Earlier this year, Turkey and the U.S. agreed the YPG would withdraw from Manbij.

Terror group YPG/PKK announced it has halted operations against Daesh in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria as a reaction to Turkey's anti-terror operations in Ayn al-Arab (Kobani), northern Syria. It also envisions Kurdish YPG forces withdrawing from the town to the east of the Euphrates. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in September that autonomous structures in the eastern part of the river that are under the direct control of the USA have been threatening Syria's territorial integrity.

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