Jul 16 2018

Turkey dismisses reports of YPG withdrawal from Manbij

Reports that Kurdish militia forces have completely withdrawn from the northern Syrian town of Manbij are incorrect, a Turkish Foreign Ministry source told Reuters on Monday.

The comments come after the Manbij Military Council, which controls the town, said on Sunday that the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish force Turkey says is a terrorist organisation, had left Manbij, which it captured from Islamic State in 2016.

“We find reports that the PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij to be exaggerated,” the source said. “The process is still continuing … Withdrawal from the checkpoints on the patrol route is ongoing … Joint patrol preparations are continuing. Therefore, at this stage, reports that PYD/YPG have completely withdrawn from Manbij do not reflect the truth.”

The status of Manbij has been an ongoing source of tension between Turkey and the United States. Turkey has demanded the YPG withdraw from the city and threatened to evict its fighters by force, but has deterred from doing by the presence of U.S. forces in Manbij.

The United States has backed the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces as its major local partner in the fight against Islamic State and together they have all but defeated the extreme jihadist group in Syria.

The United States and Turkey reached an agreement on Manbij in June in which, according to Turkey, the YPG would withdraw and security around the town would be maintained jointly by U.S. and Turkish troops.