Jan 02 2019

400 YPG militants withdraw from Manbij, says Syrian regime

Nearly 400 Kurdish militants have withdrawn from Syria’s Manbij near the border with Turkey, days after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) appealed to Syrian government for support against a threatened Turkish offensive, Russia Sputnik news reported, citing the Syrian army.

The report follows a move on Friday by the YPG, which forms the backbone of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region, to invite the Syrian army to assert control over Kurdish-held Manbij and protect against a Turkish invasion.

"We invite the Syrian government forces... to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion," the YPG said in its statement.

"A 30 vehicle YPG convoy has left Manbij at the east end of the Euphrates River in accordance with an agreement made to attain peace in Syria's north,'' the Syrian Defense Ministry told Sputnik on Tuesday.

Ankara announced a third military operation into neighbouring Syria last month; however, later stated the operation would be delayed following the announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the region by Donald Trump on Dec. 19.

YPG forces have been deployed in Manbij near the Turkish border since 2016.

Turkey desgnates the YPG a terrorist organisation and has repeatedly voiced its concern regarding the formation of a Kurdish entity on its border, citing its likelihood to strengthen the separatist ambitions of the Kurdish minority inside the county, roughly 15 percent of its population.