Turkey expects US to halt shifting of militants to Afrin
ANKARA - Reuters
Turkey expects the U.S. to stop the “shifting” of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants from Manbij to Afrin, Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalin said on March 7.
“In this regard, we [Turkey] have taken the necessary steps via official channels and we will continue to take [such steps]. In particular, it is expected that the U.S. must certainly step in and halt the shifting of YPG/PYD forces, which are moving under its control, from Manbij to Afrin. This is our natural right,” Kalın told reporters at the presidential complex in Ankara.
Kalın also said Turkey was working to extend the current five-hour daily truce in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta to 24 hours, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would be discussing the situation there with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” to clear YPG militants from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
Top Turkish officials have repeatedly pledged to launch a further military operation against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up largely of YPG militants, in the strategically important city of Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates River and northeast of Aleppo.
Washington has voiced concerns about the safety of U.S. troops in Manbij amid Turkey’s operation in northeastern Syria. There are about 2,000 American soldiers currently stationed in Manbij.