The US doesn’t intend to withdraw its troops from Syria’s Manbij despite Turkey’s warnings, US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel said Monday.
Earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara couldn’t limit its precautionary measures against the YPG to Syria’s Afrin district and might move to Manbij, also in Aleppo province.
The foreign minister reportedly said that, contrary to US promises, the cities of Manbij and Raqqa were not governed by local councils after being liberated from the Daesh terrorist group, but rather came under the control of the PYD.
Following Cavusoglu’s statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the Turkish Forces would completely clear the region of terrorists, beginning with the Syrian city of Manbij and throughout our entire border with Syria.
On January 20, the Turkish Armed Forces launched an operation, called Olive Branch, against the Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin district. The Turkish government said it had informed Damascus and Moscow, its co-guarantor in the Syrian peace process, of its operation, and has taken into account the position of Tehran, the third guarantor state.
The operation was provoked, as Ankara explained, by the necessity for the country to protect its borders from a “terrorist army,” the new “Border Defense Forces,” comprising the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish YPG militias, trained by the US.
On the day the operation started, Pentagon representative Adrian Rankine-Galloway said that the US recognized Turkey’s concerns regarding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but called on all sides to avoid escalation and focus on countering terrorism.
The US deployed its troops in Syria back in 2014 under the pretext of fighting Daesh without neither UN nor Syrian authorities’ approval. Damascus has numerous times called on the US to withdraw its troops from the Syrian territory.