President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged yesterday his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump to put U.S. officials, who make statements on ties on Turkey and the Afrin operation, in order.
"Those, who speak on behalf of Trump, are not aware of what they say. We expect a manner from Mr. Trump to fix confusions on their policies regarding our country and to bar insolent statements," Erdoğan said in a meeting at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in Ankara.
Speaking on the U.S. presence in Manbij, Erdoğan scolded Washington's supportive policies for the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG), saying the U.S. has no right to be there. "What is your relation with this region? They situated the YPG there [Manbij]. However, the real owners of those lands are Arabs. We never go somewhere to invade but for stability. We only want just administration," Erdoğan said. He also once again criticized Washington's weapons support to the PKK-affiliated groups, saying the U.S. possibly uses those weapons "against Turkey or Iran."
The president also vowed that Turkey's operations against terrorism will continue until the terror threats near its borders are eliminated, signaling the extension of Turkey's military operations in Sinjar.
"If the Iraqi central government will not take the necessary steps, we will clear Sinjar of PKK terrorists. We eliminated 38 terrorists in two days. We can go further if we see it necessary," he said.
There is understanding over Manbij but no deal yet
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that Turkey and the U.S. were yet to reach a deal on Manbij but had "an understanding for stability in the town and in areas east of the Euphrates."
"If we can reach a consensus with the U.S., we can say we have an agreement. But right now we have only reached an understanding, contrary to previous reports," Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara.
On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert also dismissed reports and said there has been no agreement between the U.S. and Turkey on Manbij and talks were still underway.
Turkey's foreign minister said that the model proposed for Manbij would apply to all areas controlled by the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and added that retreating from Manbij will not be enough. "There will be other cities after Manbij," said Çavuşoğlu.
The Syrian city of Manbij remains one of the most hotly debated issues for Turkey and the U.S., as the former considers the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S. and the European Union.
Turkish officials have long insisted that its Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin will continue with Manbij. They have also criticized the U.S. for not keeping its promises on local councils running the cities after they were liberated from Daesh, instead, the YPG assumed control of these territories.
Çavuşoğlu was due to meet former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 19 to discuss a road map for Manbij, the withdrawal of the People's Protection Units (YPG), and the return of U.S.-supplied weapons by the terrorists.
However, his unexpected sacking has delayed the plans. Despite Tillerson's exit, Turkish officials said they expected the U.S. to act in accordance with the common understanding reached by both sides.
President Tayyip Erdoğan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın said last week that Tillerson's departure may likely delay the Manbij plan but insisted that Ankara still expects Washington to keep its "promises."