Ankara: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will send its forces to the Syrian town of Manbij if the United States does not remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from the area.
Erdogan made the remarks in an address to members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul on Friday days after he threatened to launch a new operation to target the fighters.
“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization. Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly,” he warned.
Erdogan said Turkey was also determined to bring “peace and security” to areas east of the Euphrates, where the YPG controls an area stretching more than 400 km (250 miles) along the border toward Iraq.
The Turkish president compared the promised military campaign to an incursion into northern Syria in 2016 and another one, which was launched earlier this year by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies, who still hold territory there seized from YPG and the Daesh terrorists.
Also on Wednesday, Erdogan said his country will launch an operation against the US-backed Kurds in northern Syria within days.
“We will start an operation to free the east of the Euphrates from the separatist terrorist organization in the next few days,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara, referring to territory held by the YPG.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish fighters out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.
A spokesman for the Syrian militants said on Thursday that up to 15,000 fighters are prepared to support Turkey’s latest operation.
The United States, which has set up observation posts on theSyrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and saidthe newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat againstTurkey coming from Syria.