Middle East

Turkey asks US to vacate Syria’s Manbij

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had some tough words for US on Saturday. He demanded that the US must withdraw its troops from Syria’s northern Manbij region and cease all cooperation with Kurds of the region. Earlier Turkish president Erdogan said that the Turkish forces in Syria will destroy Kurdish terrorists in Manbij after the operation in Afrin is over. The Turkish president also hinted that his country is in Syria for a long haul

Armed with Heavy weaponry including artillery, air support and main battle tanks, Turks have invaded into the Syria’s Afrin region to destroy Kurdish terrorists, who, Ankara accuses to be hand in glove with PKK the banned Kurdish Worker’s Party in Turkey. The local, US trained and armed YPG units are able to offer little resistance to the massive armed intervention from the second largest NATO power which has been called, almost ironically, ‘Olive Branch’.

The Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij, is 100 km east of Afrin. As part of anti ISIS coalition US soldiers are currently stationed there, training and arming Kurdish militias. The US-led Coalition who  has told Rudaw that they will continue to stay in the Kurdish-held Manbij, just hours after Turkey warned the United States to remove their troops stationed there immediately.

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the Coalition said. The United States has about 2,000 troops in Syria, officially as part of the international coalition against Islamic State.

The eastward operations of Turkish Armed Forces is almost certain to face US forces in path. While Ankara maintains a line of communication with Washington, the ties between the NATO are at a historic low with Turks convinced that their concerns have fallen on deaf ears in US and that the direct action against Kurds is the only way to maintain its own territorial integrity. The Kurds, who fought as the front line troops against ISIS too feel betrayed by US and are looking at Damascus for protection.

Turkey, it seems has already made a  deal with the Kremlin. Both Russia and Iran seem to acceding to the Turkish drive to weaken Kurds. With Kurds weakened Tehran can rest its fear of a restive Kurdish Iran while US’s humiliation in the region will earn Putin the last laugh in the game that he carefully played. It seems the entire Iraq- Syria war is coming back to the status quo which existed before the destabilization started ruling the region



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