Manbij deal over Kurdish fighters must be implemented by year-end: Ankara

Manbij deal over Kurdish fighters must be implemented by year-end: Ankara
2 min read
23 November, 2018
The comments suggest Ankara could soon launch an offensive in Manbij to weed out Kurdish fighters from the northern Syria town.
Turkey's FM Mevlut Cavusoglu at the podium [Getty]

Turkey said on Friday that a deal with the US over removing the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij in northern Syria needs to be fully implemented by the end of the year.

The two NATO allies have had a number of disagreements in recent years, including Washington's partnership with the YPG as part of its fight against the Islamic State group.

Ankara classifies the YPG a terror group, and considers it an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party that has been in armed conflict with the Turkish state for over three decades.

In May, Washington and Ankara struck a deal over the fate of Manbij, which when implemented will see the YPG leave the northern Syria town.

Turkish and US forces began patrolling the region together earlier this month, but tensions flared after Ankara shelled Kurdish fighters across the river from Manbij.

"This delay should not exist anymore. This issue needs to be completed by the end of the year," said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, in remarks to CNN Turk

"Joint patrols have begun in Manbij and YPG needs to withdraw immediately from here. When we start implementing the same roadmap on the east of the Euphrates as well, YPG/PKK will be thrown out of all the cities," he added.

The YPG are the principal fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that have fought IS on the ground, with US air support as well as arms, funds and training.

There are some 2,000 US special forces on the ground in Syria.

While Turkey has intervened in northern Syria to push out Kurdish fighters along border regions with Turkey, it has not pushed east of the Euphrates so as not to come into direct conflict with Washington.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signalled that Turkey could soon begin operations east of the river.

The YPG still controls large tracts of territory in northeast Syria. 

More than 40,000 people have died, mainly Kurds, since the PKK began fighting the Turkish state in 1984 seeking first independence and later more autonomy from Ankara. 

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab