U.S.: No decision yet to support Kurds to close ISIS-held Manbij pocket

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YPG fighters and other members of the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather in Kobane suburb after liberating Tishreen Dam from ISIS militants. File photo: ARA News

ARA News 

QAMISHLO – U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) hasn’t made any decision to support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to take the city of Manbij, a coalition spokesperson said. 

The SDF forces seized the Tisreen dam on December 25, 2015, and also reached the ISIS boundaries near the Marea line. Moreover, the SDF-forces set up a Manbij city council and military council, for capturing the key city in northern Syria. 

Last week, militants of the Islamic State pushed back Turkey-backed Syrian rebels from the al-Rai border crossing, east of Azaz, and the village of Tal Shair, and started shelling Marea in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

Analysts suggested that the Turkish government backed rebels to take the area from Marea until Jarabulus, to prevent the Kurds from connecting the city of Kobane to Efrin district in northwestern Syria. However, the Turkey-backed rebels failed to stop ISIS, and were pushed backed easily by the militant group. 

Nevertheless, the US is still not ready to back the Kurds. “Not yet,” U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State, said in a press conference from Baghdad. “So we’re still working through all of this.  I don’t have a timeline to give you,” he added, which suggests Turkey is still negotiating with the United States. 

The pro-Turkish government news outlet Yeni Safak reported that the United States gave the Kurds a guarantee that they could take the Manbij corridor in mid-June. This news was however not confirmed by Kurdish or US-coalition sources.

“We are still working through it.  There are, as you know, several competing sets of sensitivities that have to be managed that’s being worked really at the political and diplomatic level,” Colonel Warren said. “We would like to see, at the end of the day, the Manbij pocket closed.  So, you know, there’s a lot of work going on, diplomatic at the political level, as well as at the military level to try and get all the players into a place where they’re comfortable closing off this pocket.” 

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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