US needs to withdraw from Syria's Manbij region immediately, says Turkey
Jan 27, 2018
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to reporters in the capital Ankara on January 27, 2018. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says US military forces need to immediately withdraw from Syria's northern region of Manbij as Turkish troops are engaged in an operation in the Arab country’s Afrin region against militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara on Saturday, Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to see concrete steps by the United States to end its support for the Syrian Kurdish force.
The remarks came hours after the Turkish presidency announced in a statement that Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and US National Security Adviser Herbert Raymond McMaster had discussed Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region during a telephone conversation the previous night.
McMaster said that Washington would not give more weapons to YPG militants.
The two senior officials also agreed to boost mutual coordination and clear up misunderstandings on issues concerning Syria, the statement added.
Also on Saturday, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement that at least 394 YPG militants had been killed since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20.
The military said that only terrorists and their positions and shelters were being destroyed, and that “careful attention” was being paid not to harm any civilian.
Meanwhile, more than 10,000 people demonstrated in Cologne, Germany, on Saturday to denounce the Turkish offensive in northern Syria against YPG militants.
The demonstrators held placards that read “Freedom for Kurdistan” and “Shame on you, Europe!” in the western German city.
The Syrian government has already condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory," Syria’s official news agency, SANA, cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying last week.
"Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation," the source added.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.
This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the terrorist group.
The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.