'Prep for operation east of Euphrates going as planned'

Works on roadmap for Manbij, Syria continuing intensively, says Turkish defense minister

'Prep for operation east of Euphrates going as planned'

Preparations for a counter-terror operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, are proceeding as planned, Turkey’s defense minister said on Tuesday.

Hulusi Akar also said that talks will be held with U.S. officials in the coming days on the roadmap for Manbij, Syria.

"Work on the Manbij roadmap continues intensively," Akar told reporters ahead of the Justice and Development (AK) Party's parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara.

Turkey and the U.S. agreed to complete the Manbij roadmap before the U.S. finishes the withdrawal of its troops from Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier Tuesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that a cross-border operation against the terrorist PYD/YPG in Syria will happen soon. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week made the surprise announcement that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria. The action followed Trump's phone call with Erdogan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.