Turkey in ‘multisided effort’ to push YPG out of Manbij: Spokesperson
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) and U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham shake hands before a meeting in Ankara on Jan. 18. Erdoğan and Graham has discussed the situation in Syria as the United States prepares to withdraw troops. Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Turkey has said it will not allow the YPG to pose a threat along its borders and is determined to clear the northern Syrian region of Manbij of the YPG, as a U.S. senator holds talks in Ankara for Syria.
“The regime’s provocation attempts for Manbij and the PYD/YPG’s efforts of letting the regime in Manbij must not be allowed. Clearing Manbij of the PYD/YPG is a matter of national security for us,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy told reporters on Jan. 18 in a press conference.
“There had been a terrorist attack in Manbij. This has revealed the significance of precisely implementing the course of action in Manbij and eliminating the terrorist organizations in the region,” he added.
His remarks came on the same day U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had talks in Ankara with the Turkish government, including the president, foreign minister, defense minister and intelligence chief. Aksoy said the latest developments in Syria, including the issue of a safe zone will be on the agenda of the talks with the American senator.
The talks also came ahead of a crucial meeting of the Turkish and Russian presidents on the issue of Syria. Aksoy said the issue of the U.S.-proposed safe zone will also be discussed with the Russians. The issues will be among on the agenda of discussions that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have with his Russian counterpart during a visit to Russia on Jan. 23, he added.
“Our response to the U.S. proposal of a safe zone is affirmative. I would like to state that a meeting between military officials and diplomats continue,” said the spokesperson, stressing that the safe zone Turkey supports will be a significant development for Syria.
“Of course, this is a process. Discussions on how this zone will be set up and its modalities will proceed,” he said and noted that the deputy foreign minister will convey Turkey’s views on the safe zone during a meeting of the Syria Working Group on Feb. 5 in Washington. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will participate an international meeting on the issue of ISIL in the U.S. on Feb. 6, he added.
Aksoy also stressed that the withdrawal period of the U.S. should not serve the YPG’s interests. “A new fait accompli should not happen,” he said.
The spokesperson underlined that Turkey’s determination has pushed U.S. President Donald Trump to decide to withdraw from Syria.
“Yet, we have observed a resistance in U.S. security bureaucracy against the decision of withdrawal. The dialogue between our countries is important in order to implement this decision,” said Aksoy.
Turkey won’t stop until it eradicates the terrorists from neighboring Syria, said the head of Turkey’s presidential communications on Jan. 18. “We won’t stop until we drain the terrorist swamp next door. We won’t rest until justice is served,” presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.
“Terrorists have killed more than 2,000 innocent people in Turkey since 2015. Many of those attacks were planned in northern Syria. The Turkish people suffered more than their fair share,” Altun added. Turkey has said it will soon launch an operation in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, targeting the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the illegal PKK, which is listed as terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the EU.