Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters: Erdogan

Erdogan, in a speech in Istanbul, said Turkey was determined to bring peace to the area east of the Euphrates river in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 December 2018
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Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters: Erdogan

  • Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
  • Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria, where the US has backed YPG

ISTANBUL: Turkish forces will enter the Syrian town of Manbij if the United States does not remove YPG Kurdish fighters, and it will also target Kurdish-controlled areas further east, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Erdogan said this week that Turkey would launch a new operation within days against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia which controls swathes of Syria’s northern border region, in what will be Turkey’s third military campaign in Syria in two years.
Ankara and Washington have long been at odds in Syria, where the United States has backed the YPG in the fight against the Daesh group. Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish fighters out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.
“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization,” Erdogan told members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in a speech in Istanbul. “Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly.”
Erdogan said Turkey was also determined to bring “peace and security” to areas east of the Euphrates, where the YPG controls an area stretching more than 400 km (250 miles) along the border toward Iraq.
He compared the promised military campaign to an incursion into northern Syria in 2016 and one earlier this year by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, who still hold territory there seized from YPG and Islamic State fighters.
A spokesman for the Syrian rebels said on Thursday that up to 15,000 fighters are prepared to support Turkey’s latest operation.
The United States, which has set up observation posts on the Syrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and said the newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat against Turkey coming from Syria.
Erdogan, however, said Turkey had waited long enough to act against the YPG militia, which it says is indistinguishable from PKK militants who have waged an insurgency against the state in southeastern Turkey for 34 years.
“We are not only providing security for our country when taking steps in Syria but we are also protecting the honor of people,” he said.
Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobanin said on Thursday the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are spearheaded by the YPG, will respond strongly to any attack. 


Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 20 January 2019
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Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.