U.S. collaborating in Manbij with multi-ethnic force, not YPG – Pentagon

Spokespeople from the U.S. Department of Defense have denied working with the mostly-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, saying that their allies in the area are multi-ethnic but mostly Arab, reports the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.

Tensions are high between the United States and Turkey, which has accused its NATO allies of supporting the YPG, a group it considers an extension of the Kurdish separatist, terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Turkey has launched a military operation against Afrin, a northwest Syrian region held by the YPG, and threatened to attack Manbij, another northern Syrian area where U.S. troops are present training local forces after the defeat of the extremist jihadist Islamic State (ISIS).

The United States’ only ally in the area is the Manbij Military Council (MMC), and not the YPG, Hürriyet quoted Colonel Robert Manning as saying.

Another U.S. officer, Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, refused to speculate on the presence of YPG forces in Manbij, but denied a link to the mostly-Kurdish organisation. Rather, the sole U.S. allies in the area were the MMC, which is made up of 60 percent Arabs, and the remaining 40 percent a mixture of Kurds, Christians and Turkmens, according to Hürriyet.