In a recent video shot by a fighter from the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed People's Protection Units (YPG), the Manbij victory against DAESH was dedicated to imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Even though the U.S. does not recognize the link between the PYD and the PKK, the YPG dedicated the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) recent Manbij victory to Öcalan. The U.S. has previously tried to convince Ankara that YPG fighters do not make up most of the SDF.
Previously, funerals for the slain YPG militants included PKK flags and banners of Öcalan. A funeral ceremony was held in Kobani in mid-June for four YPG militants who were killed in the Manbij operation. A large portrait of Öcalan was seen next to the coffins of the slain YPG militants. Two of them were reportedly killed by DAESH militants in the Manbij operation on June 12.
Some 3,000 Arab SDF fighters reportedly took part in the offensive, backed by around 500 Kurdish SDF members, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder said previously. He added that U.S. special forces were working "at the command and control level" in the operation.
Washington's support for the YPG has caused great tension in Turkish-U.S. relations. Brett McGurk, the U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter DAESH, visited Kobani and held talks with PYD officials in early February. Photos of McGurk's visit to Kobani surfaced on social media.
McGurk was also seen meeting with former PKK fighters in Syria. Polat Can, the spokesman and one of the founders of the YPG, shared a photo on his Twitter account that showed him presenting a plaque to McGurk.
Even though the U.S. administration insists the YPG was not the driving force in the Manbij operation, Ankara remains suspicious and asserted that it would not welcome the group in Manbij once the operation ends.