AL-UDEID AIR BASE, QATAR – Turkish and American troops could begin conducting joint patrols in a matter of days around the northern Syrian city of Manbij within the coming days, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Sunday. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him that the soldiers' training is expected to last "several more days," and then will transition to combined patrols. The Manbij patrols are part of a road map that Ankara and Washington agreed on in June to defuse tensions amid Turkish demands for the withdrawal of a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia that freed the town of Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016. The U.S. and the Turks have been conducting independent patrols along the border, and joint patrols are considered a way to tamp down potential violence between the various groups there. "We're right on track with where we want to be," Votel said.