ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US will not remove its troops from the strategic city of Manbij in northern Syria according to a leading US military commander.
Withdrawing US forces from Manbij is “not something we are looking into,” US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told CNN on Sunday.
On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the US needed to remove its troops from Manbij region “immediately.”
Manbij is a city located northeast of Aleppo and about 40 kilometers south of Jarabulus, which lies on the Syrian-Turkish border. It has been used as a strategic base for US troops in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) as it is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) leading component, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkey launched a military operation to clear the US-allied YPG from the border region of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). The incursion has raised tensions between Turkey and the US, which has been arming the Kurdish group over the past years in the fight against the jihadist group.
Cavusoglu on Thursday told reporters that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had asked the US President Donald Trump to pull out troops from Manbij.
Manbij was liberated in April 2016 by the SDF, the Kurdish YPG-led alliance consisting of Arab and Kurdish fighters. The area was occupied by IS since 2014.
Turkey links the YPG to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU, and the US.
Editing by Nadia Riva