ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus claimed on Monday that Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) were leaving the Syrian town of Manbij.
At a press conference held after a Council of Ministers meeting in the Turkish capital of Ankara, Kurtulmus said his country was not against Kurdish presence in northern Syria but opposed the YPG expansion there.
"We know that the creation of a Kurdish corridor -- a PYD corridor actually, [because] we are not opposed to the presence of our Kurdish brothers there -- a corridor ruled by a terror group means the division of Syria," said Kurtulmus.
The YPG and its Arabo-Kurdish alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated Manbij from the Islamic State (IS) group with air support from the US-led anti-IS Coalition in mid-August.
Syrian Kurdish forces labelled terrorists by Turkey for ties with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), have not confirmed withdrawal from Manbij.
The liberation of Manbij prompted Turkey to make an incursion into Syria with the aim of containing Kurdish forces.
Turkey is alarmed at the US-backed Kurdish forces' expansion west of the River Euphrates and the prospects of uniting the two Cantons of Kobani and Afrin that would create a contiguous Kurdish-ruled zone stretching from Iraq's Kurdistan Region to the Mediterranean Sea in northern Syria.
"Turkey supports the territorial wholeness of Syria," stated the Turkish deputy PM who insisted that the SDF-held areas west to the Euphrates must be left to "local components."
Turkey is supporting Arab and Islamist Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions on the ground since its operation into Syria dubbed as Euphrates Shield against IS and the YPG began late August.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called on the US for a withdrawal of Kurdish forces from Manbij, a town he last week declared to belong to Syria's Arab majority.
THE GREATER KURDISTAN
Meanwhile, Turkey's Minister of Economy Nihat Zeybekci claimed on Sunday that the aim of the failed July 15 coup attempt by a clique within the Turkish Army was the creation of a state of Kurdistan.
"The aim of this attempt of occupation was to create Armenia and Kurdistan," said Zeybekci referring to irredentist Armenian claims on a number of provinces in Eastern Turkey, according to remarks relayed by the pro-government Sabah newspaper.
Turkish officials have often labeled the failed coup as the first step of a foreign occupation without specifying by which country or forces.
"After that, whatever is happening today in Iraq and whatever they are trying to make it happen in Syria would be enforced in Turkey," claimed Zeybekci who was speaking to the public in his hometown of Denizli.
Editing by Ava Homa