MANBIJ, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – The US-backed, Kurdish-led forces in Syria’s northern town of Manbij on Saturday said US troops deployed to the area are staying despite Turkish demands the Americans withdraw.
According to local forces in Manbij, known as the Manbij Military Council (MMC), an ally to the People’s Protection Units (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), US officials reiterated they would remain in and defend areas under their control.
Shervan Darwish, a senior commander with the MMC, told Kurdistan 24 that the US’ presence in Manbij and following statement committing an extended stay in the Syrian north was a message for all those who threaten to attack the region.
“We say it openly, as we already hold a lot of meetings and discussions with the US-led coalition, that, despite recent threats, the cooperation and coordination between us are still ongoing,” he said.
According to the local military command which works in coordination with the American troops, US forces patrol the Sajour River frontline “every day.”
Sajour River forms the line between the Manbij forces and the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.
US forces were deployed in and around Manbij to deter Turkish and US-backed fighters from attacking each other. They have also carried out training missions in the area.
A few weeks ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the United States needed to “immediately” withdraw from northern Syria’s Manbij region.
Speaking to reporters, Cavusoglu also said Turkey wanted to see concrete steps by Washington to end its support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces.
However, Redur Xelil, a senior official for the US-backed SDF, an alliance of Syrian fighters spearheaded by the YPG, said any broader Turkish assault would face an “appropriate response.”
In a recent interview, he added he was sure the US-led coalition, which has backed the SDF in its battle against Islamic State (IS), was trying to put pressure on Turkey to limit its offensive.
(Reporting in Kurdish by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Redwan Bezar from Manbij)
Editing by Nadia Riva