World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking to reporters during his flight to Brussels, Jim Mattis said talks had taken place between U.S. secretary of state and the Turkish minister of foreign affairs in Washington D.C.
The Manbij roadmap was announced after a meeting in Washington on Monday between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The deal focuses on the withdrawal of the PKK-affiliated YPG terror group from the northern Syrian city and on stability in the region.
"We are working out, how do we take -- again, Turkey, a NATO ally -- how do we take Turkey's legitimate security interests and enhance their security? They are the only NATO nation with an active insurgency inside its borders," said Mattis, according to a transcript made available by the Department of Defense.
"They're the front-line state for NATO [...] -- on the front line of this disaster that [Bashar al-]Assad has visited upon his people in Syria, with the Iranians' help, the Russians' help. And we have got to find a way to work Turkey's legitimate interests," he stressed.
Mattis said the SDF were the only organization at the time able to thwart and defeat ISIL in "very, very tough fighting".
"And we will not simply cast that organization aside, because it is critical to stopping -- to defeating the ISIS [ISIL] caliphate now, which we've still not defeated. It is critical to destroying the physical caliphate that -- the operations that are going right now. And it's critical to preventing the rise of ISIS 2.0."