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US Delegation in Manbij to Reassure Kurds, Challenge Ankara

US Delegation in Manbij to Reassure Kurds, Challenge Ankara

Friday, 23 March, 2018 - 07:00
A US military delegation outside the Manjib council headquarters on Thursday.
Ankara - Beirut- London - Saeed Abdelrazek and Asharq Al-Awsat
A US military and political delegation visited Manbij in the countryside of east Aleppo Thursday to reassure Kurds and Arabs, Washington’s allies in the Syrian city.

The delegation’s visit represents a direct challenge to Ankara, which alluded to launching a military operation in Manbij if Kurdish fighters refuse to withdraw.

“The visit aims to offer support to the residents of Manbij and to assert that their fate would not be similar to that of Afrin,” a member of the Manbij local council told the Germany news agency, dpa.

He said the US delegation expressed its willingness to defend the city against any foreign attack that aims to shake the security and stability of the region.

The delegation, which toured Manbij on Thursday, included US Ambassador William Roebuck and Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard.

Their presence in Manbij came following comments delivered by Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Ankara-backed opposition forces would expand to Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until the corridor of towns along Syria's border region with Turkey is fully “eliminated.”

US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces operate there.

On Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency that his country wants to maintain the agreement it had previously reached with the US administration after the appointment of a new Secretary of State.

The minister said that Ankara would intervene if it fails to reach an agreement with the US on a plan to remove Kurdish fighters from Manbij.

He added that once the roadmap on Manbij is successfully implemented, Turkey will then move on to cities located east of the Euphrates where the same model will be implemented.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists said on Thursday that either Syrian regime or Russian warplanes pounded the town of Harm in the countryside of Idlib near the Turkish border.

The attack came as the first batch of opposition fighters and their families started leaving the Damascus enclave of Eastern Ghouta to Idlib, following a Russian-sponsored agreement reached between Ahrar al-Sham and the Syrian regime.

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