Even though U.S. officials announced on Wednesday that the PKK's Syrian offshoots, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), would pull its militants from the Syrian city of Manbij and withdraw east of the Euphrates River, Turkish officials continue their warnings due to previously unkempt U.S. promises.
Touching upon this matter on Friday, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said, ‘‘The PYD will withdraw from Manbij one way or another,'' implying that the Turkish military may force the PYD to withdraw from Manbij unless they keep their promises. "We have an agreement with the U.S. regarding the PYD's withdrawal from Manbij. We are still waiting for them to fulfill their promises," Yıldırım added.
Government spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş also expressed Turkey's determination to end the PYD's presence east of the Euphrates River. "The PYD either withdraws from Manbij or they will be forced to leave," Kurtulmuş said Thursday evening. "Recent statement from U.S. officials indicate that the PYD will leave Manbij completely and move back to the Euphrates River," he added.
U.S. special envoy Brett McGurk announced on Wednesday the PYD will pull its militants from the Syrian city of Manbij and withdraw east of the Euphrates River. McGurk described the move as a "milestone," saying on Twitter all YPG units would depart Manbij after training local units to maintain the city's security against Daesh.
Ankara had previously declared that a PKK-linked YPG expansion west of the Euphrates River was a "red line." Moreover, Turkish officials consistently reiterated that the U.S. had guaranteed that YPG militants would not retain a presence west of the Euphrates River once counterterrorism operations against Daesh were complete in the region.
Daily Sabah reported on Nov. 10 that the YPG's removal from Manbij was one of the main topics of discussion during Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford's visit to Ankara on Nov. 6. At the meeting, both sides welcomed the idea of establishing a joint task force to monitor the withdrawal of YPG militants from Manbij. The task force includes members from Turkish and U.S. foreign ministries, the armed forces and intelligence agencies.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Nov. 8 nearly 200 YPG fighters are yet to withdraw from east of the Euphrates, while urging the U.S. to keep its promise on the matter, asserting that a lack of cooperation would force Turkey to take the "necessary actions."
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