New footage of the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), was revealed yesterday, showing the terrorist organization fortifying tunnels around northern Syria's Manbij province. Sure enough, this is an area that the organization is supposed to have left in accordance with a deal made between Turkey and the U.S.
The new Anadolu Agency (AA) footage shows that the terrorists have continued excavation to extend and expand the tunnels, as well as electrical work to light them up for the use of machines and wheelbarrows. With air support and arms from the U.S., the YPG, which took the region from Daesh, is preparing for possible military action by Turkey. The tunnels, which have been made tall enough to allow people to walk through upright, surround the district center of Manbij.
To prevent the terrorist organization from tightening its grip in northeast Syria and disrupting peace efforts in the region, in Manbij Turkey aims to accelerate the process launched in June with the U.S. As part of the agreement, Turkey and the U.S. agreed to work on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij, a YPG-held region in northern Syria. The aim of the Manbij deal is to ensure security and stability in the province by eliminating YPG terrorists and ultimately handing the administration of the province to a body consisting of local people. Yet, progress in the deal, Ankara says, has been "sluggish" and slower than initially planned, due to what has been described as the disingenuous attitude of the U.S. over the plan.
The terrorist group has completed constructing trenches and embankments in areas surrounding the entire city center as if it has no intention of leaving. The terror group formed embankments at various depths in front of trenches to make a series of lines stretching nearly 30 kilometers (18 miles). Turkey recognizes the PKK and the YPG as organically linked terrorist groups. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, has supported the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militarily, which is predominantly led by the YPG, under the pretext of fighting Daesh.
Foreshadowing the Turkish counterterrorism action, last month, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, "The terror group is digging ditches in Manbij, as they did in Afrin, despite promises made for the YPG's withdrawal from Manbij." "The terror group should know that it will be buried in the trenches it has dug," he told Parliament's Planning and Budget Commission.
So far, Turkey has carried out two successful operations, Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch, against the Daesh and YPG terrorist groups in the northern Syrian towns of Jarablus, al-Rai, Dabiq, al-Bab and Afrin. The third operation is expected to target locations east of the Euphrates River as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced recently.