Syrian Kurds withdraw to east of the Euphrates: Turkish gov’t spokesperson
ANKARASyrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants in the Manbij region were withdrawing east of the Euphrates River, Turkish government spokesperson Numan Kurtulmuş said on Sept. 26.
Turkey was still determined to clear “this region of terrorists,” Kurtulmuş also said, while speaking after a cabinet meeting. The primary components of the demography of the region were returning to their homeland in Jarablus after the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) offensive, he stated.
“We want the local people in both Mosul and Raqqa to be the main elements of the [military] operations,” Kurtulmuş said.
The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the YPG, should not be included in either operation, he added.
He also recalled Turkey’s three “red lines” regarding military operations in Syria.
Turkey has to defend its borders from terrorists in Syria, the spokesperson said, stressing the need to maintain the territorial integrity of the neighboring country, for which he said Turkey would make a “necessary intervention.”
Turkey objected to a “Kurdish corridor” by the YPG in Syria, which he said would lead to division in the neighboring country. Thirdly, Kurtulmuş underlined the YPG’s presence in Syria should not cross west of the Euphrates.
Turkey last month launched Operation Euphrates Shield, aimed at securing its border in northern Syria from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants and stopping the advance of the Syrian Kurdish YPG.
Turkey sees the U.S.-backed YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Ankara has said its campaign had the dual goal of “cleansing” the region of ISIL elements and preventing the YPG from filling the void and extending the area they control near Turkey’s border.