ERBIL – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are preparing for a major offensive to retake the city of Manbij from the Islamic State (ISIS).
A spokesman for the US-led coalition, which backs the SDF in its war on ISIS, told ARA News that for the US “it’s critical that the ISIS-held Manbij pocket of 98-kilometers” is seized from the radical group.
“As to why the Manbij pocket is important, it represents a major border crossing point where foreign fighters can cross into Syria from Turkey,” said Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State.
“In regards to a plan to retake Manbij, I don’t want to speak about potential future operations for obvious security reasons, but if there is a pocket of the ISIS out there on the battlefield, we of course want to attack it to root them out,” Col. Garver told ARA News.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, reported that there are negotiations going on between Turkey and the United States over the Manbij operation.
In the meantime, Peter Cook, Spokesman for the Pentagon, on Monday did not want to give details about the meetings between Turkey and the US over Manbij. “I let the Turkish government speak [on that subject],” he said.
“Turkey remains a critical partner in the fight against ISIS and a critical NATO ally and we work closely with Turkey in range of fronts,” he added.
The Turkish government opposes that Kurdish forces cross into Manbij, although the newly formed Manbij Military Council [announced on 3 April] not only consists of Kurds, but also Arabs, Turkmen, and other minorities.
“To show respect to your sacrifices and resistance in the face of terrorism and tyranny, we hereby announce our commitment to fight side by side with you in order to defeat terrorism and liberate our dear city of Manbij and its countryside from the fist of ISIS terrorists where Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Circassians used to coexist peacefully before the occupation,” Adnan Abu-Amjad, the commander of the Manbij Military Council, said in the announcement of the new council.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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