Washington will not allow Turkish army into Manbij, says Kurdish leader

A convoy of US forces armoured vehicles drives near the village of Yalanli, on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Manbij. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
0

Washington will not allow Turkish army into Manbij, says Kurdish leader

LONDON: The commander of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has said Washington told YPG forces that it will not allow the Turkish army and Ankara-backed militants to enter Manbij, northeast of Aleppo.
Sipan Hemo said that his fighters had destroyed “11 Turkish tanks and other tanks that were operating under the Ankara-backed militants” and that “the only aid we are provided is from Damascus, and it’s medical, rescue and humanitarian aid.”
Since Jan. 20, Turkey, along with Syrian rebel factions, has launched an offensive “targeting members of YPG” — seen by Ankara as a “terror group” — in Afrin, along the northern Syrian borders. Ankara fears that the Kurds will establish self-rule on its borders along the lines of Iraqi Kurdistan.
More than 20,000 fighters from Syrian factions are participating in Operation Olive Branch, along with the Turkish Army and affiliated “special units” under the cover of the Turkish air force, after Ankara had the green light from Russia, which is covering its air force in the regions in the West of Syria’s Euphrates River.
In a phone call with Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday, Hemo said from Afrin: “Seventeen days after launching the offensive, Turkey has not achieved any of it goals. Turkey is now reviewing and calculating, as it considers the current situation a matter of irreversible survival. As Turks launched the operation, they thought they would achieve their goals within days but that has not yet happened.”
He added: “Turkey is looking to destroy the will of the Kurds. However, tactically, what it really wishes to do is to take control over Afrin and the eastern and western country sides of Aleppo up to the city of Aleppo, as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has always wanted to annex Aleppo, considering it part of the Ottoman Empire. However, Turkey has not achieved a significant military advance.”
Hemo, leading the “units” from his residence in Afrin, indicated that his fighters “destroyed 11 Turkish tanks and other tanks. Many Turkish and pro-regime soldiers were killed.”
Hemo and Syrian Kurdish commanders sent Asharq Al-Awsat videos of fighters launching tank attacks with anti-tank missiles between Afrin and Turkish borders, as well as pictures of raids launched on Kurdish cites in the region. Some reports indicated that the units have used long-range Grad rocket-launchers, but this has yet to be confirmed.
It was said that it was Washington that handed the American-made TOW missiles to the YPG — the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces — to fight Daesh initially and that Moscow and Damascus provided the Russian-made Konkurs missiles.
Hemo said: “The missiles are not American nor Russian, but thermobaric missiles we found on the black market and developed ourselves. The US said many times that it has nothing to do with Afrin and Al-Shahba’ regions near Aleppo. Our joint work with the US is limited to the fight against Daesh in eastern Euphrates river.”
When asked about Damascus’ support of the Kurdish units to fight the Turkish army, Hemo said: “Our position is very clear. Syria should be protecting the Syrian border from any Turkish assault. However, we were only provided with medical, rescue and humanitarian aid.”


US delegation in Turkey to talk Syria troubles

Co-leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Sezai Temelli (L) and Pervin Buldan (R) speak to the media on May 25, 2018 during a campaign meeting for the presidential elections near the prison where Demirtas is being held in Edirne. (AFP)
Updated 26 May 2018
0

US delegation in Turkey to talk Syria troubles

  • US has a military presence in Manbij and has provided military support to the YPG
  • Manbij is held by Kurdish militia

ANKARA: A US delegation was in Turkey on Friday to discuss Syria, an official said, after a Kurdish-held city became a major headache between the NATO allies.
The northern city of Manbij is held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia, a group which Ankara says is the “terrorist” offshoot of Kurdish hard-liners in Turkey.
The US has a military presence in Manbij and has provided military support to the YPG in the fight against Daesh, causing anger among Turkish officials. After Turkey launched a cross-border operation against the YPG in the western enclave of Afrin in January, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to take the offensive to Manbij which raised fears of a confrontation between Turkish and American troops.
The offensive also caused tension between the allies because Washington urged Turkey to show “restraint” and said it could harm the fight against Daesh extremists.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters on Friday that American officials were in Turkey as part of a working group on Syria.
The group was established to try to resolve the Manbij issue and coordinate US-Turkey efforts in Syria after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met in February.
Turkish officials were in Washington in March as part of the working group, set up after the threats by Ankara and repeated calls for the YPG to leave the city.
Cavusoglu is due to meet the new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on June 4.
Ankara says the YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the US and the European Union.
The PKK has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
Erdogan has repeatedly urged the US to halt support for the YPG.
His ruling Justice and Development Party published a manifesto on Thursday calling for “concrete steps” by the US to end its backing of the YPG and provide “concrete support” to Turkey in its fight against the PKK.
Erdogan vowed Turkey would “continue its operations in Syria until the last terrorist is cleared.”