The U.S. will work with Turkey on locals taking control of captured areas in Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 17, citing Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
"We concur with Turkey on the need for locals taking control of the liberated areas. We are going to work with Turkey on locals taking control, and with Turkey on every other irritant, diversion, or distraction," Mattis said.
"We have many areas of absolute concurrence too," Mattis told reporters en route to Washington, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.
On January 16, asked if Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorist group would be involved in the operation against Afrin, Turkish President Erdoğan told reporters in parliament: "Of course they will, together. This struggle is being conducted for them. Not for us." Erdoğan aims to create an area to locate the subcontracted forces in the north under Turkish government's control.
Mattis said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu agreed on "significant" issues that the two countries would work through.
Tillerson on Feb. 15 made a two-day working visit to the Turkish capital Ankara, where he met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Çavuşoğlu to discuss several issues including strained bilateral ties and regional developments, particularly in Syria and Iraq.
The two countries agreed to establish a results-oriented mechanism, which will be activated no later than mid-March.