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Turkey denies reports of handing villages to Syrian government

Turkey denies reports of handing villages to Syrian governmentTurkey's foreign minister on Thursday determined as false reports about handing over villages in Syria.

According to the earlier reports, a U.S.-allied militia in northern Syria had agreed under a deal with Russia to hand over villages on the front line with Turkey-backed rebels to Syrian government control.

The villages are located west of the city of Manbij and have been a focus of fighting since Wednesday between the Turkey-backed rebels and the Manbij Military Council, the U.S.-allied militia.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara the report was false, but added there was an agreement with Russia that Syrian government and opposition forces should not fight each other in that area.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said this week Manbij was the next target of Ankara's campaign in northern Syria following the capture of nearby al-Bab from Islamic State last week.

"We will move towards Manbij after the al-Bab operation is completed, but the operation has not started yet. We know that the U.S. special forces are in that region, and we want the YPG to leave Manbij as soon as possible," Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu said Turkey did not want the United States to continue cooperating with Kurdish groups and added that Turkey had repeatedly warned it would strike Kurdish militants if they remained in Manbij.
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