Manbij attack a provocation to hinder US withdrawal from Syria, Erdoğan tells Trump

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 20.01.2019 23:33
Updated 21.01.2019 00:04
Reuters File Photo
Reuters File Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump held a phone call late Sunday, in which they discussed the latest developments in Syria.

Erdoğan told Trump a deadly terror attack last week in northern Syria's Manbij was a provocation to hinder U.S. withdrawal from Syria, and extended condolences for slain American personnel, presidential sources said.

The president also told Trump that Turkey is ready to take over security in Manbij without delay and that Turkey agrees to take action to clear Daesh remnants out of Syria and prevent their return.

A restaurant in Manbij town center was rocked by an explosion on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people and injuring many others.

Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

The attack killed two U.S. soldiers, one Department of Defense civilian and a contractor, the Pentagon confirmed hours after the explosion.

The dead included nine civilians and at least five PKK-linked People's Protection Forces (YPG) terrorists, according to the SOHR.

A previous call between the two heads of state resulted in Washington's decision to pull troops out of Syria.

In initial remarks after the attack, Vice President Mike Pence said the United States would fight to ensure the defeat of the Daesh but reiterated plans to pull troops out of Syria.

"We'll stay in the region and we'll stay in the fight to ensure that ISIS does not rear its ugly head again," Pence said.

Manbij town and its surrounding area have been controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG terrorist group, since August 2016 after ousting Deash terrorists who captured the town from moderate opposition in January 2014.

Manbij is one of the two areas controlled by the SDF/YPG on the right bank of the Euphrates River, with the other being the area including the town of Tabqah in central Syria.

Turkey strongly opposes YPG's presence in Manbij and reached a deal with the U.S. in June to end the terrorist group's presence in the town and conduct joint patrols.

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