US says no new Turkey-US deal over clearing of Manbij from YPG forces

US says no new Turkey-US deal over clearing of Manbij from YPG forces

US says no new Turkey-US deal over clearing of Manbij from YPG forces The U.S. State Department has said there was no new deal with Turkey over the clearing of Syria’s Manbij from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is one of the sticking points in the already tense relationship between the two countries. It also noted that the YPG has already cleared the area. 
“I’ve seen those reports,” U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said during a daily press briefing on Nov. 3, referring to reports suggesting that the U.S. and Turkey agreed on clearing YPG forces from Manbij under U.S. and Turkey supervision. 

“I don’t have anything to confirm them. It’s the first I’m hearing about any kind of effort, so I can’t confirm,” said Toner. 

Turkey and the U.S. are at odds over the designation of the PYD and YPG. While Turkey regards them as terrorist organizations due to their ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the U.S. says the PYD and YPG are effective partners in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The U.S., on the other hand, regards the PKK as a terrorist organization. 

Manbij is a key Syrian city close to the Turkish border that has been liberated from ISIL militants. 

“What we have spoken to before is we understand Turkey’s concerns with respect to some elements of the YPG, and we have asked them [the YPG] to live up to the commitments that they have made to us with regard to where they are based and where they are – yes, I would say based in northern Syria,” Toner said. 

“And what we’ve seen thus far is that they’ve lived up to those commitments,” he added.

Turkey says the YPG and the PYD should not cross to the west of the Euphrates River and rejects any option of cooperating with PKK-affiliated groups in fights against ISIL either in Syria or Iraq. 

On Oct. 26, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed that Turkey would sweep the PYD from Manbij. 

“We are determined to clear the PYD from Manbij,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 26 in Ankara.

“We will do whatever necessary if they do not return back across the other side of the Euphrates River … There is an effort to form a terror corridor along the border but we will not permit this,” he added.