Turkey Expects Syrian Kurdish Forces to Withdraw after Manbij Operation: Minister

Turkey expects Syrian Kurdish fighters to withdraw east of the Euphrates river after they and other U.S.-backed forces seized control of the Syrian town of Manbij from Daesh last week. REUTERS/Rodi Said

ANKARA, Aug 15 – Turkey expects Syrian Kurdish fighters to withdraw east of the Euphrates river after they and other U.S.-backed forces seized control of the Syrian town of Manbij from Daesh last week, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.

The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, said on Friday they had seized full control of Manbij near the Turkish border, in a significant strategic blow to Daesh.

Turkey views the Kurdish YPG militia as a hostile force, an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group which has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast, and which is considered a terrorist group by the United States and European Union as well as by Ankara.

“Of course we have an expectation,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. “The U.S. promised that the (Syrian Kurdish) forces within the coalition and democratic forces there would move east of the Euphrates again following the Manbij operation.”

The operation, in which U.S. special forces played a significant role, marks the most ambitious advance by a group allied to Washington in Syria since the United States launched its military campaign against Daesh two years ago.

U.S. officials have said once the Manbij operation is completed, it would create the conditions to move on the militant group’s de facto capital of Raqqa.

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