Manbij Military Council ‘Will not Accept’ Turkish Military Presence in Region #SyriaWar
Syria’s Manbij Military Council, a militia allied to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, said on Wednesday that it will not accept a Turkish military presence in the town
after Ankara and Washington said they had reached an agreement for administering the area.
“We will not accept that,” council spokesman Sharfan Darwish told Reuters in response to the question whether the council would accept a Turkish military presence in the Manbij area.
Darwish said the council had not yet been officially informed of the mechanisms of a Turkey-US roadmap for Manbij announced on Monday, but said the council was capable of preserving the security and borders of the town against any external threats.
“We are awaiting high-level visits by coalition officials to inform us of the details, and for consultations and discussions,” Darwish added.
The fate of Manbij has been a focus of friction between the United States and Turkey because of the presence there of the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia that forms the largest part of the US-backed SDF.
The YPG said on Tuesday its military advisers would leave the town. The Manbij Military Council on Wednesday said this would occur “in the coming days”.
Ankara has been angered by Washington’s support for the YPG-dominated SDF, and pledged earlier this year to drive the Kurdish group from Manbij by force, raising the possibility of confrontation with US forces in the area.
In a related matter, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said he welcomed the Turkish-US roadmap for the northern Syrian city of Manbij foreseeing the removal of the YPG from the area.
The secretary-general’s comment on the highly anticipated deal came during a press conference ahead of a meeting between NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
The roadmap on Manbij was announced on June 4 in Washington after a meeting held between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The roadmap on the YPG’s removal includes three stages, with the first 10 days devoted to initial preparations between the militaries and intelligence agencies of the two sides for the withdrawal of the Syrian-Kurdish forces and actions to be taken by the two sides in Manbij, Çavuşoğlu said on June 5, speaking to Ankara bureau chiefs of media outlets in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya.
In the second stage, he said, teams from both sides will hold meetings to conclude preparations. In the third stage the implementation of the roadmap will be carried out, the minister added.
Meanwhile, a US spokesperson said the roadmap is actually “conditional.”
“Look, the secretary endorsed, along with the foreign minister of Turkey, a general roadmap,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday (June 5).
“I want to be clear that this is going to be conditions-based. That means that things can change over time as conditions change on the ground,” Nauert said.