Turkey, US accelerate work on Manbij roadmap: Turkish FM
The implementation of the roadmap for ridding Syrian northern town Manbij of the YPG militants has accelerated as the U.S. changed its attitude towards it, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 6.
“There has been an acceleration when compared to the past... In particular, the U.S. administration and Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo are asking for immediate implementation of this [roadmap]” he told members of the Turkish press in Washington DC.
Despite the progress, however, Çavuşoğlu said the roadmap “must be fully and immediately implemented”, holding the U.S. responsible for the slowdown in the roadmap.
Turkey deems the YPG as an offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union. However, the U.S. has supported and armed the YPG in the fight against the ISIL in northern and eastern Syrian territories.
On a possible safe zone in northern Syria, Çavuşoğlu said concrete ideas have yet to emerge on the issue and Turkey has been holding talks with Russia and working to coordinate with the U.S.
“It is important what we understand about a ‘safe zone’. That is, if a buffer zone that will safeguard terrorists is envisaged or desired, we are against that,” Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying.
Turkey is aware that some countries had financially encouraged radical groups in Syria to breach an agreement signed by Ankara and Moscow last year to establish a demilitarized zone in the country’s last opposition stronghold of Idlib, he added.
Turkish Foreign Minister also said Ankara and Washington were carrying out joint efforts regarding the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria and Turkey’s security concerns.
A joint mission force has been formed between Ankara and Washington to coordinate the latter’s pullout from the war-torn country, he said.
Earlier in the day, in his speech at a meeting of foreign ministers from member countries of the U.S.-led coalition to defeat the ISIL, Çavuşoğlu called for a coordinated effort to eliminate the remnants of the terror group in Syria and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.
“Avoidance of power vacuums that could be exploited by terrorists to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity and neighbors’ national security will be essential,” he told the meeting.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized to the coalition the U.S. will also continue to work toward stability in Iraq and Syria.
“President Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops will be withdrawing from Syria is not the end of America’s fight. We will continue to wage alongside of you,” he told coalition members. “It simply represents a new stage in an old fight.”
The 79-member coalition was founded in 2014 to reduce the threat the ISIL posed to international security.