Turkey says will hit Kurd militia in Syrian Manbij if they stay

Mar 10, 2017, 00:37
Turkey says will hit Kurd militia in Syrian Manbij if they stay

Turkey and the US are locked in a heated dispute about USA plans to liberate Raqqa, with Turkey insisting its own military and allied forces in Syria should mount the fight and that USA -backed Syrian Kurds should be excluded.

"It's a visible reminder, for anybody who's looking to start a fight, that the only fight that should be going on right now is with ISIS", Davis said, using the Trump administration's preferred acronym for the Islamic State group.

"It makes no sense to launch an operation in Manbij without the cooperation of Russian Federation and the United States", Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in a televised interview. "If coordination can't be established, then there could be a risk of confrontation, which we do not wish for". Turkey is a vital partner in this effort here.

The SDF has controlled Manbij since a year ago when it pushed out IS, but recently it has clashed with Turkish-backed forces. Turkey, however, has labeled Kurdish militants such as those belonging to the People's Protection Units within the SDF as terrorists and has refused to recognize their position in the larger fight against ISIS. Both Russia and the United States have deep reservations about Ahrar al-Sham, which for all its disavowals of al-Qaeda is viewed as being very radical nonetheless.

The SDF is largely dominated by the YPG which Turkey sees as the Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been waging an insurgency against Turkey for over 30 years.

"We continue to seek the opportunity to return to serve those in critical need", she said.

"What Turkey is experiencing with its allies in the West is traumatic", Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Wednesday as he lashed out against the US alliance with Syrian Kurdish forces.

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Yildirim said Turkey was still awaiting a USA decision on Raqqah amid signs that such a decision could come soon.

As Turkey made it clear that its rebel proxies would move on Manbij to remove the Kurds, the SDF began fearing the consequences of a major battle for the city. And so it did, advancing with its FSA proxies on villages to the west of Manbij last week.

That followed an agreement with Russian Federation to pre-empt an attempt by Turkish-led forces to take Manbij, Reuters reported.

The public display, unusual for a small USA presence of mostly Special Operations troops officially numbering just 503, is deliberate, Pentagon spokesman Capt Joe Davis told reporters this week. Meanwhile, SDF forces, also once supportive of the Syrian opposition, ceded defense lines to the Syrian army as part of a Moscow-brokered deal.

Manbij city is now held by the Manbij Military Council (MMC), which was established by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last summer to expel ISIS from the city and protect it.

That has fueled concerns among some of the Arab fighters recruited by the United States that their participation in the force will result in turning over areas they fight for back to the Syrian government, said Ahmed Mohammed of the Syrian Institute for Justice, who is from Manbij and has relatives in the city.

The top generals from Turkey, the United States and Russian Federation met Tuesday in Turkey to discuss mutual concerns about military operations in northern Syria.