“The terrorists in Manbij should be removed from the area, otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take initiative by itself”- Pressing ahead after its capture of the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria, Turkey says it will remove the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces from the city of Manbij in eastern Aleppo Province.
Ankara wants to push the leading element in the SDF, the Kurdish militia YPG — which it considers part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK — east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.Turkey’s National Security Council, chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, issued its declaration on Wednesday: “In the meeting, it is stated that the terrorists in Manbij should be removed from the area, otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take initiative by itself as it did in other regions.”Turkish officials say they will meet American counterparts on Friday to review the situation.
So far the US military has signalled that it will continue backing for the SDF in Manbij. Last month, the top US general in the anti-ISIS coalition, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, visited the sity and said, “We’re here to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS is maintained in this area.”Turkey’s NSC also said it expects the government of neighboring Iraq to prevent the PKK from operating in the north of the country, especially in the towns of Sinjar and Qandil. The Council threatened bombing of PKK positions, “If it is not possible, Turkey will prevent them by itself.”
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told Erdoğan that Iraqi armed forces will block the PKK, which has battled Turkish security forces for more than 30 years, from staging cross-border attacks.