Turkish military says 260,000 Syrians returned to 'Euphrates Shield' operation area

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The State Department said it was it touch with both Turkey and the SDF to deescalate the situation.

U.S. forces and Manbij officials have repeatedly said that Turkish forces will not enter Manbij city itself, but will be confined to designated neutral areas, even within the joint patrols. When Turkey launched Olive Branch, the United States announced that it would not provide any military support to the YPG fighters in Afrin since they operated outside the realm of the US-led coalition's mission to defeat IS.

Turkey considers the YPG militia an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has led an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.

US-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria say Turkish military vehicles are massing near the border ahead of an expected assault that could derail their fight against ISIS in the east of the country and further strain relations between Ankara and Washington, its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

The halting of the operation is a major setback for the U.S. and its allies and comes after Turkey threatened a new military operation targeting the Kurdish-led SDF.

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The Turkish leader noted that his country is finished preparing for operations in Syrian Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria, located east of the Euphrates River.

Turkish and U.S. soldiers have begun joint patrols around the city of Manbij in northern Syria aimed at averting clashes between Turkey and Washington's Kurdish allies, even as Ankara presses on with a new threatened offensive nearby to crush the Kurds. The statement was released not long after it was announced that Turkish and American troops had begun conducting joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.

Turkish forces have been firing across the border for five days in preparation for what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says will soon be an offensive, the first by Turkey across the Euphrates, to crush the Kurdish forces along the breadth of the Turkish frontier.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union - has been responsible for the death of 40,000 people, including women and children.

"We will soon come down hard on the terror organization with more extensive and effective operations", he said.Turkish forces had already bombarded positions east of the river held by the YPG, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on October 29.

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"The terror group is digging trenches in Manbij as they have done in Afrin, despite promises made by the U.S. about PKK/PYD/YPG's withdrawal from Manbij", Akar told lawmakers in a planning and budget committee meeting.

Turkey has been fighting a Turkish group called the PKK inside its own borders since 1978.

Beirut-based analyst Nour a-Din al-Omar, who recently conducted research in Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, suggests that some Kurdish political and military officials fear that their forces could once again be left to fend for themselves.

Past offensives halted at the banks of the river, in part to avoid direct confrontation with the United States.

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