Turkish foreign ministry denies reports of deal handing villages to Syrian government

ANKARA (Reuters) - Reports that 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 were false, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday.

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 will strike Kurdish militants in Syria’s Manbij if they stay there, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Daren Butler