Europe

The Latest: Turkish troops to head to Manbij, target Kurds

  • Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces take up positions during fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in the ancient city of Palmyra, near Homs, Syria, Thursday, March 2, 2017. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces take up positions during fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in the ancient city of Palmyra, near Homs, Syria, Thursday, March 2, 2017. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces take up positions during fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in the ancient city of Palmyra, near Homs, Syria, Thursday, March 2, 2017. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian forces take up positions during fighting between Government forces and Islamic State group militants in the ancient city of Palmyra, near Homs, Syria, Thursday, March 2, 2017. Syrian state media says government forces have reached the edge of Palmyra and are poised to reclaim the historic town from the Islamic State group. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest developments in Syria and at the Geneva talks. (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister says with the completion of an operation to retake the Islamic State-held town of al-Bab, Turkish troops will head to Syrian town of Manbij next, to oust it of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces that Ankara views as terrorists and a threat to Turkey.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said Turkey would not shy away from attacking the Kurdish group that dominates the Syria Democratic Forces and which captured Manbij last year after weeks of deadly fighting with the Islamic State group. He renewed calls for the new U.S. administration not to support the Kurdish forces.

Cavusoglu added that an operation to take Manbij had not started yet, but acknowledged that skirmishes between Turkish-backed forces and the Kurdish fighters may have occurred.

___

10:50 a.m.

The United Nations envoy to Syria is working round the clock in a bid to secure a modest victory in the fourth round of talks held in Geneva.

Staffan de Mistura is due for another round of meetings Thursday marking a week of bilateral talks with the government delegation and opposition groups.

A top Syrian opposition negotiator told journalists overnight Wednesday the "envoy is really keen to start a political process on the basis of a clear agenda."

Nasr al-Hariri said the talks would likely culminate in a closing ceremony Friday and the parties may be back in Geneva for further discussions in a few weeks.

Setting the agenda and strategy to guide discussions has proven difficult as the main conflicting parties dig in their heels over form and semantics.