Erdoğan asks U.S. to quit Syria’s Manbij

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday warned the United States to withdraw any American forces from the Syrian town of Manbij, vowing that Turkish troops would expand a cross-border military operation to the key strategic hub.

Mr. Erdoğan blamed Washington for the presence in Manbij of fighters from the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing, which Ankara sees as terror groups.

Turkey on January 20 launched a major operation aimed at ousting YPG forces from their enclave of the northwestern town of Afrin.

However, moving east to Manbij — where unlike Afrin there is a U.S. military presence — would mark a major escalation.

Accusing Washington of breaking its past promises, Mr. Erdoğan said: “They (Americans) told us they will pull out of Manbij. They said they will not stay in Manbij... Why don’t you just go?”

Turkey considers YPG as Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged an insurgency since 1984 and is designated a terrorist outfit by Ankara and its Western allies.

Turkey considers towns like Manbij to be originally Arab-majority territory whose ethnic balance was upset in favour of the Kurds during a seven-year civil war.

In 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance dominated by the YPG, captured Manbij from the Islamic State.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 3:11:40 AM |

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