US to Turkey: Forces in Syria’s Manbij to prevent escalation

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A convoy of US forces armoured vehicles drives near the Northern Syrian city of Manbij, on March 5, 2017. © Delil Souleiman/AFP

ARA News

At the first press briefing held under Trump, the US State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday that American troops are based in Manbij area in northern Syria to send a message that all forces should remain focused on the fight against ISIS.

“I think, broadly speaking, of course it’s a very complex environment around the area east of al-Bab. It’s a place where multiple forces, frankly, have converged – all with the intent to drive out ISIS,” acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington.

“But I think when you’ve got multiple forces in such a small, confined space, we want to avoid any unnecessary or unintended escalation in what is already a very tense and dynamic situation,” he added.

Therefore, the US-led coalition stationed forces in Manbij to send a message to all forces to keep their focus on ISIS.

”So we are sending a message to all forces that are there on the ground to remain focused on the counter-ISIS fight and concentrate their efforts on defeating ISIS and not towards other objectives that may detract from the coalition’s ongoing campaign,” Toner said in a message to Turkey that threatened to attack Manbij.

Manbij city is currently held by the Manbij Military Council (MMC), which was established by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last summer to expel ISIS from the city and protect it.

“We want to keep the focus on the stated intent to destroy ISIS. The coalition is going to continue work in close coordination with allies and partner forces, again, with the focus on defeating what is a common enemy, which is ISIS,” he added.

On Tuesday, U.S., Russian, and Turkish chief of staffs met in Turkey to discuss the situation in and around Manbij city in northern Syria and the ways to de-conflict the situation.

“The purpose of the meeting, as I understand it, is to enhance senior-level military communications and improve operational de-confliction of our respective military operations in Syria,” Toner said.

Nawaf Xelil, a Kurdish analyst and former official of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told ARA News that the meeting comes after Turkey failed to capture al-Bab easily, and with the US and Russian army present in Manbij.

“In my opinion, the Americans and Russians will not allow Turkey [to hit the SDF], because all Syriacs, Arabs and Kurds are united in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” he said.

“Turkey knows the United States will not change its plans. The SDF is now 8 kilometers from [ISIS-held] Raqqa, and they have cut the roads between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. The SDF are now on the Euphrates River,” Xelil told ARA News.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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