Free Syrian Army prepares for Manbij
The Turkish controlled Free Syrian Army (FSO) is preparing for operations in Syria’s Manbij following the success of “Operation Olive Branch” in Afrin, according to Turkey’s Hürriyet newspaper.
“We want to clear the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) terror organization all the way to the Iraqi border,” said Muhammet Şibil a commander in the FSO’s Al-Hamza brigade.
Turkey regards Kurdish groups in Syria, such the People Resistance Units (YPG), which it evicted from Afrin as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades. Unlike Afrin though, U.S. troops are present in regions of Syria east of the Euphrates River, supporting Kurdish groups that control the territory.
Referring to the continuing presence of U.S. troops on the ground around Manbij, Şibil said, “Whatever happens happens, let whoever wants to oppose us do so. We will clear the PKK from those lands. We know that the United States promised Turkey to withdraw the PKK from the area in 2016. But they didn’t keep their promise.” He continued, “First of all with Allah’s help and then with ours, the terrorists will be expelled from the region.”
Stating that their success in Afrin had strengthened the FSA, Şibil also said that the main aim of “Operation Olive Branch” had been to protect those who lived in the, mostly Kurdish populated, region.
He added, “We are making continuous preparations for Manbij. Just like Afrin and el-Bab we will liberate it. Because Manbij is Arab and Turkmen, the PKK will not be able to get support (from the population) and this will make our work easier. Half an hour after Turkey gives the go-ahead we will be in Manbij.”