ANKARA, Turkey (Kurdistan24) – Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Friday said they were still waiting for a withdrawal of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the town of Manbij, west of the River Euphrates.
“We have an agreement on the abolishment of the PYD presence in Manbij with the US from the very start,” Yildirim said.
“In every meeting, they state that they are behind the agreement and will do what is necessary,” the PM continued. “We are still waiting for the realization of this.”
PYD is a Kurdish acronym for the leftist Democratic Union Party that is the ruling party in Syrian Kurdistan.
“They have to withdraw; one way or another they will withdraw,” the Turkish PM told reporters in front of an Ankara mosque where he attended the weekly Muslim Friday prayers, according to the Kurdistan24 bureau there.
Turkish leaders often interchangeably use the PYD and its US-backed military wing YPG to refer to the Kurdish forces which they deem “terrorists” for having ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
US officials repeatedly contest the Turkish view on Syrian Kurdish forces which they see as reliable and effective allies against the Islamic State (IS).
On Wednesday, the US Presidential Envoy to the International Coalition to counter the IS Brett McGurk announced on Twitter that all YPG units were to depart Manbij and return east of the Euphrates.
Calling the development a “milestone,” McGurk said the Kurdish forces were in Manbij to train local units for the purpose of maintaining security after the August defeat of IS there.
The Turkish leadership including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously strongly criticized the US for backing Kurdish advances into Manbij which he said was an Arab city and could not be ruled by non-Arabs.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany