ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syria’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday claimed 400 fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) pulled out of Manbij, the pro-Syrian government news agency SANA reported. However, a YPG source says there are no YPG fighters in Manbij.
“There is no YPG in Manbij,” the source told Kurdistan 24 on the basis of anonymity. “Nobody can say YPG fighters are departing Manbij.”
Syria’s Defense Ministry published a video that supposedly showed the fighters pulling out of Manbij.
However, some local Kurdish journalists suggest the video might be from November 2016 when YPG fighters headed to Raqqa and withdrew from Manbij.
According to the ministry, the YPG departure was in line with “an agreement” for the return of a normal life to northern Syria.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) also reported that 250 fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) withdrew.
So far, the SDF has not responded to the SOHR’s claims.
In June 2018, the YPG announced it had pulled all their advisers from Manbij.
Spokesperson Nuri Mahmud told Kurdistan 24 on Monday that the YPG had announced a few months ago it had withdrawn military advisors “to let the Manbij Military Council protect themselves.”
“In front of an occupier [Turkey], the Manbij Military Council knows better what to do,” he said.
On Dec. 28, the YPG, which is the leading component of the SDF, called on the Syrian state to protect Manbij against a Turkish attack and to protect its borders.
“It is the duty of the army to protect its soil, people, and sovereignty,” Mahmud added.
“Our call for the Syrian army to confirm its duty to protect its soil is something very positive.”
However, he said no deal had been reached between the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and the Syrian government.
“As we clarified, all the meetings and talks should be through the SDC,” Mahmud said. “We don’t have any agreements with the regime yet.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany