YPG has agreed to ‘depart Manbij,’ says US
The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is seen by Ankara as a terrorist organization and an offspring of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have agreed to withdraw its forces from the northern town of Manbij, the U.S. Department of State has said.
“We’ve agreed as a part of the overall roadmap in dealing with Manbij that the YPG will depart Manbij. We’re continuing to work with our NATO ally Turkey on a common way forward in Manbij,” said U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert in a press briefing on June 21.
When asked whether YPG fighters are still inside Manbij, despite their announcement of withdrawal, Nauert said she “cannot tell you exactly where they are.”
“I can tell you, however, that they have agreed in that framework that they will depart Manbij, but I can’t confirm where they are at this point,” she added.
The Turkish army conducted its first patrolling mission around Manbij on June 18 for the implementation of the road map and the second patrolling mission was conducted on June 20.
According to the bilateral roadmap prepared by Turkey and the U.S., the YPG is scheduled to withdraw from the town on July 4 to east of the Euphrates river, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on June 21.
The U.S. considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by YPG militants to be its main ally in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
Turkey has long pushed for the YPG’s removal from Manbij, where a sizeable U.S. force has also been deployed since early 2016.