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MIDEAST >Turkey has two demands from US for support in Manbij operation: Sources

Tolga Tanış – WASHINGTON

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Turkey has demanded Syrian Arab tribes to leave Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and asked the U.S. to increase its air strikes for groups Turkey supports, in exchange for helping the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition during an assault on the jihadist group in the Manbij region. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan negotiated hard terms with U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last week in Washington, where he was attending the Nuclear Security Summit, Turkish sources said. 

The U.S. has asked for Turkey’s support to take back Manbij, which lies at the southeastern end of the 98-kilometer border Turkey shares with Syria that is controlled by ISIL. Turkey in return put forth two demands. 

Erdoğan first demanded that the Syrian Arab tribes to be included in the Manbij operation leave the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is under the control of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and undergo “background checks."

Turkey also demanded the U.S. increase its support for the groups Turkey supports at Marea, which is located on the southwestern end of the 98-kilometer border, with airstrikes. 

Turkey and U.S. are at odds over the designations of the PYD, and its military wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG). Turkey designates the two groups as terrorist organizations as it sees them as offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while the U.S. sees the PYD and YPG as “reliable partners” in its fight against ISIL in Syria. 

Turkish sources said Turkey had not changed its stance regarding the designation of the YPG and PYD, while another Turkish source claimed that the U.S. had softened its tone over its stance regarding the two groups and that progress between the two NATO allies had been reached. 

Meetings at a technical level will continue in Ankara, the second source added. 

Another Turkish source said that a group of U.S. military and intelligence staff were set to travel to Turkey on April 4 to work on a plan for an operation to liberate Manbij from ISIL.

April/03/2016

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