PYD will withdraw, Turkish PM Yıldırım says
AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has stressed that Ankara expects the fulfillment of the withdrawal of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Manbij, as recently reiterated by the United States.
“In every meeting, they say they are behind this agreement and will do what is necessary. We are still waiting for this. [The PYD] will withdraw, one way or another,” Yıldırım said.
On Nov. 16, both the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk, and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the PYD, said they will withdraw from northern Syrian town of Manbij toward the east of the Euphrates River, as Turkey has long demanded, after their duty in the area is finalized.
The YPG said it would withdraw from Manbij and join the operation to liberate Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital, from the jihadists.
However, Turkish security sources told daily Hürriyet on Nov. 17 that the U.S.’s remarks on the YPG’s withdrawal from Manbij were “not true.”
Sources claimed the YPG was still located in Manbij, with some being permanently being located across the town.
Turkey has shelled PYD targets in the region, sources said.
State-run Anadolu Agency reported on Nov. 17 that the YPG, launching an offensive from Manbij, had taken control of eight villages on the road to al-Bab.
Meanwhile, the YPG released photos showing a convoy of vehicles leaving Manbij on Nov. 18, Doğan News Agency reported.
US, Russia also have some thoughts on Al-Bab: Turkey
In addition, Turkey, which had set liberating Syrian town of Al-Bab from extremist jihadists as a priority target, said Washington and Moscow “also had thoughts” on the key town and underlined they were in communication with both countries on the issue.
“Not only Turkey, but both the U.S. and Russia also have some thoughts on Al-Bab. We are in efforts to handle it on the table and through communication,” Defense Minister Fikri Işık told reporters on Nov. 18.
Işık stated that the Turkish intelligence agency and military had been in close coordination with their American and Russian counterparts on developments in the field.
“There are different interest groups. Turkey is taking steps to protect its own and regional interests and to increase its security to a maximum level,” he said.
Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have declared liberating Al-Bab from ISIL as their next target and started to advance toward the strategic town last week.
However, Turkey’s plans to advance toward Al-Bab are not being supported by the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition air strikes because it was “independently” launched by Turkey, said U.S. Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition fighting the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq on Nov 17.
“That’s a national decision that they have made,” Dorrian said.
Over the last three days, Turkish warplanes have not carried out airstrikes over Syria in support of the FSA, sources told daily Hürriyet, saying the Syrian regime had plans to launch an offensive and take Al-Bab itself. The Syrian regime therefore renewed its airspace violation threat to Turkey, with the consent of Russia, sources added.
Işık, however, claimed there was “no problem.”
“There was a Russian measure on this in the past. But it has been removed now. Necessary aerial support is being given,” he said.