ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Manbij Military Council’s (MMC) leadership on Tuesday said they would defend the city of Manbij from terrorist groups, and rejected Turkish statements claiming otherwise as “misinformation.”
“Recently, statements have been made by Turkish officials attacking the MMC because it is digging trenches and establishing earth mounds in the city within a systematic media campaign that aims at misleading the public opinion and instigating unrest,” the MMC argued.
The Turkish National Defense Minister, Hulusi Akar, in public statements on Tuesday, accused the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of digging trenches and embankments around the city of Manbij.
However, US officials claim that most of the YPG has withdrawn from Manbij and are much more positive about the Manbij roadmap, which the US and Turkey agreed upon on June 4.
“My understanding is that most of the YPG, if not all of the YPG, is out of Manbij right now,” General Joseph L. Votel, commander, U.S. Central Command, told reporters on Oct. 4.
“But, of course, as we continue in implementing the roadmap, there are specific activities within that to ensure that that is the case. And I think that will occur in due course as we continue to implement the implement the roadmap,” he added.
Votel noted that cooperation with Turkey is ongoing, explaining the forces are “engaged with our Turkish partners right now in moving to the combined joint patrols” and eventually shift toward “collective training.”
“We look forward to sustaining the very high level of stability that is already present in Manbij,” the general concluded.
The MMC echoed Votel’s statement, highlighting the stability of the city of Manbij.
“Manbij lives in conditions of security and stability despite all attempts by hostile forces to spread chaos, internal fighting, kidnapping, theft and armed conflict as is the case in other cities under the control of the Turkish occupation,” the MMC said in response to Turkish media reports.
“We have taken all security and military measures to protect the city from the attacks of terrorist organizations so that we can be a source of confidence for the people that, today, are relatively safe as thousands of people return to their villages and towns,” the MMC statement added.
The MMC, however, asserted it had taken necessary security measures to protect the city of Manbij and accused Turkey of hypocrisy, noting that Turkey has build a wall on the Syrian-Turkish border to prevent refugees from entering Turkey.
“The occupation encircles the people with a wall, so it is not entitled to talk about a safe city in any other country,” the MMC argued.
The first batch of US personnel arrived in Turkey on Oct. 2 for training, Turkish media reported.
“They started training, but [there are] no joint patrols yet. That comes after all the training is completed,” Army Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), told Kurdistan 24.
Washington and Ankara have been locked in a dispute over the former’s support of the YPG in Syria.
Turkey claims the Kurdish forces have ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The US rejects that characterization and backs the YPG as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the ongoing fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS).
Editing by Nadia Riva