US, Turkey in Manbij ‘deal’
ANKARA, Turkey, June 14, (Agencies): Turkey’s military said Thursday that Turkish and US officials meeting in Germany have reached an agreement on the Syrian town of Manbij, which has been a source of tension between the NATO allies.
A US-backed and Kurdishled force captured Manbij from the Islamic State group in 2016. Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey, and has demanded they withdraw.
A military statement said Turkish and US military officials met at the US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart on Tuesday and Wednesday, and reached an agreement on a “Manbij Implementation Plan.” It said the
plan would be discussed by senior officials from the two countries, but provided no details.
Turkey and the US have offered differing descriptions of their roadmap for Manbij, but the Kurdish forces are expected to retreat to the east of the Euphrates River, meeting a longstanding Turkish demand.
Turkey has repeatedly called on the US to stop backing the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which it sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The PKK has waged an insurgency in Turkey for more than three decades.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are dominated by the YPG, played a key role in driving IS from much of northeastern Syria. Their advance prompted Turkey to intervene in 2016, sending troops and allied Syrian fighters into an area along the border.
An international human rights group said Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters have seized, looted and destroyed the property of Kurdish civilians in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, which was retaken from Kurdish fighters by force earlier this year.
Human Rights Watch said the Syrian forces have installed fighters and their families in residents’ homes and destroyed and looted civilian properties without compensating the owners.