YPG's full withdrawal from Manbij set to begin under Turkey-US deal

Published 03.07.2018 00:00
Updated 03.07.2018 00:10

Turkish and U.S. forces are expected to jointly take control of northern Syria's Manbij tomorrow following the departure of PKK-affiliated groups as part of a mutual agreement. The first patrols by both Turkish and U.S. troops in the region began on June 18, after a Manbij road map was announced following a meeting in Washington between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early June. According to the road map, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terrorist organization, the People's Protection Units (YPG), will begin leaving the Manbij region as of tomorrow. The Turkish military yesterday completed their eigth round of patrolling in Manbij.

On its Twitter account, the Turkish General Staff said that both countries' forces conducted separate coordinated patrols in the area between the Operation Euphrates Shield region and Manbij. Previously, U.S. military support for the YPG terrorist group in Manbij had strained ties between Ankara and Washington and led to fears of confrontation between the two NATO allies since there were roughly 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in the city. Meanwhile, displaced people from Manbij now staying in refugee camps in northern Aleppo have voiced their support for the entry of Turkish forces into their city with a view to ensuring peace and security.

In a statement released by Manbij's Albo-Shaaban tribe, the tribal spokesmen called on the Turkish army to "drive the terrorist gangs from Manbij and end the group's tyrannical practices against civilians."

According to the tribe, quoted by Anadolu Agency (AA), local civilians have been subject to extortion, detention and torture, which in some cases have led to death, at the hands of the terrorist group.

"The people of Manbij are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Turkish army [to the city]," read the statement, released late Sunday night.

"We call on the city's Arab, Kurdish, Circassian and Turkmen residents to rest assured that their lives and property are safe," tribal spokesman Mansour Abdel-Aal said.

Meanwhile, two US senators, Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire, visited the Manbij yesterday

The two toured the town with members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which predominantly led by YPG.

"The aim of the visit was to see the security situation in Manbij," said SDF spokesman Sherfan Darwish.

In footage published by a local SDF-linked outlet yesterday, Graham could be seen telling SDF commanders the US would not withdraw from the area.

"I will tell President (Donald) Trump it's important that we stay here to help you. You're friends of the United States and if we leave, it will be terrible," Graham said.

The two senators also visited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Friday to request the release of the imprisoned U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson and discuss other U.S. concerns, including Turkey's purchase Russian S-400 systems.

Should the Manbij model prove to be a success, Turkey will push for a similar arrangement in eastern Syria to remove terrorist elements that have major affiliations with the PKK. Manbij is known for its predominantly Arab population. In 2016, the YPG took over Manbij from Daesh and had been controlling the town with the backing of the U.S. Washington claims it supports the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is predominantly led by the YPG, in the fight against Daesh, while Ankara says the YPG's organic links with the PKK terrorist group makes U.S. support to the group unacceptable.

As such, Turkey says the previously Arab population, driven out by the YPG, will be brought back to their hometowns.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter