The US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said he couldn’t confirm rumours coming from the Turkish media that the US and Turkey agreed to force Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) out of Manbij city in northern Syria, but said the YPG honoured its commitments to pull out from Manbij.
“I’ve seen those reports. I don’t have anything to confirm them. It’s the first I’m hearing about any kind of effort, so I can’t confirm,” Mark Toner said. “We’ve worked with the YPG pretty extensively in northern Syria. They’ve been an effective fighting force against Daesh [ISIS].”
“They’re part of, frankly, a broad coalition of forces – Syrian Arabs as well – who have been effectively fighting against Daesh in northern Syria. What we have spoken to before is we understand Turkey’s concerns with respect to some elements of the YPG, and we have asked them to live up to the commitments that they have made to us with regard to where they are based and where they are – yes, I would say based in Syria,” he stated.
Toner said that the YPG lived up to their commitments to withdraw from Manbij. “And what we’ve seen thus far is that they’ve lived up to those commitments,” he stated. “I think it was our assessment that they had cleared out.”
Also the US-coalition spokesperson could not confirm the reports. “I’m afraid I can’t. I’ve not seen those reports, and I’m not up to speed on it. I would ask you to follow that up with my colleagues in the Pentagon there,” Colonel John Dorrian, Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman said on Thursday.
“[…] our partner force — the Syrian Democratic Forces — liberated Manbij after fierce resistance from Daesh [ISIS]. The enemy fought hard to retain this territory, which they’ve used as a command and control node for external operations, leveraging its strategic location along the border,” he said.
“Ultimately, Daesh were forced to retreat and used human shields as they were driven from the city. Those operations have already done quite a bit to isolate Raqqah, reducing the access to infiltration roots to and from Europe,” he stated.
In the meantime, the YPG General Commander Mahmud Berxwedan in a recent statement said that the goal of Turkey is to end the ‘Kurdish presence in Syria’, not just to stop the success of the Kurdish-led self-administrations in northern Syria.
The commander accused Turkey-backed rebels of destroying many Kurdish villages in northern Aleppo. He called on the US and the international community to pressure Turkey to stop the killing of civilians.
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