MESOP REPORT : GOING ON ERDOGAN’S DIRECTION FURTHER ON INTO SYRIA / KURDISTAN – Turkey to target Syrian Kurdish forces if no Euphrates retreat: FM

ISTANBUL,— 29 Aug 2016  Turkey on Monday said it would continue targeting a Syrian Kurdish militia in Syria if it failed to fulfil promises to retreat east of the Euphrates River, accusing the group of ethnic cleansing.“The YPG (People’s Protection Units) first of all… needs to cross east of the Euphrates as soon as  possible. So long as they don’t, they will be a target,” said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.  “In the places where it has moved, the YPG forces everyone out — including Kurds — who do not think like it does and carries out ethnic cleansing,” he added.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 civilians were killed in Turkish shelling and airstrikes on Kurdish-held areas, claims that were strongly rejected by Ankara. But Ankara has said it had killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” on Sunday as it pressed on with a two-pronged operation inside Syria against the Kurdish YPG.

The Kurdish YPG militia said on Thursday its forces have returned to their bases after the mission was successfully completed in Manbij.

The action against the YPG is hugely sensitive as the Kurdish group — seen as a terror group by Ankara — is an ally of Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States, in the fight against IS in Syria.

Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian Kurdistan — similar to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.

Cavusoglu said the ethnic composition of the area around the city of Manbij west of the Euphrates — captured by the YPG from IS earlier this month — was largely Arab.

“Residents who had to leave the region (before fighting broke out) must be the ones who live there. But that is not the goal of the YPG,” he said at a news conference alongside his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders.

Cavusoglu also hailed the success of the lightning operation by Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters, who on Wednesday captured the town of Jarabulus from IS.

“The objective of this operation (Jarabulus) … is to clear this region of the Daesh (IS) terrorist organisation.”

“As you see, even with a small force, the Daesh terrorist organisation is leaving and running away from the regions under their control,” he added.

A spokesman for the autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian Kurdistan (northern Syria) said on Monday that local military forces in the Syrian cities of Manbij and Jarablus are being reinforced, but not by Kurdish YPG militia.

The spokesman was responding to comments from regional security sources that Kurdish YPG fighters appear to be reinforcing Manbij, captured this month from Islamic State, with weapons and personnel.