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Turkey Urges US to Withdraw From Syria’s Manbij

Turkey Urges US to Withdraw From Syria’s ManbijTurkey Urges US to Withdraw From Syria’s Manbij

Turkey has called on the United States to withdraw its military personnel from northern Syria’s Manbij region after announcing Ankara’s plan to push Syrian Kurdish fighters from the area, according to local media.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said on Saturday that it was “necessary for them [US] to immediately withdraw from Manbij” as well as take “more concrete steps rather than words” to end its support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) armed group.

“The US must cut ties with the terrorist organization,” he told reporters in Turkey’s Mediterranean province, Antalya, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported, as cited by Al Jazeera.

The remarks came a day after, according to the Turkish presidency, US National Security Advisor HR McMaster assured Ankara in a phone call on Friday that Washington would no longer give weapons to YPG, Hurriyet reported.

Turkey considers YPG, the military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is outlawed in Turkey. Ankara says pushing Syrian Kurdish fighters away from northern Syria is essential for Turkey’s national security.

On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation along with the Free Syrian Army—a Syrian rebel group—to drive YPG from Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin.

On Friday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish troops could push YPG all the way east to the frontier with Iraq, including Manbij, Hurriyet reported.

According to a statement published by the Turkish armed forces on Saturday, about 394 fighters were “neutralized” since the start of the Afrin operation.

The army said, “340 targets of the PKK, KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union], PYD/YPG [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units], and ISIL [an acronym for the self-styled Islamic State] terror organizations have been destroyed.”

It also said three Turkish soldiers and 13 members of the allied FSA were killed in the operation.

Also on Saturday, a rocket was fired from Afrin hit Turkey’s border province of Kilis, injuring two people after hitting a five-storey building in the neighborhood of 7 Aralik, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.

 

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