US, Turkey in Man­bij ‘deal’

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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