Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has reiterated during his meeting with Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Turkey’s call on the US to promptly withdraw the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the Syrian city of Manbij, the Turkish Defence Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Akar and Dunford have discussed the return of weapons passed to the YPG terrorists and also fight against terrorist organisations including the IS.* Akar has stressed the importance of speeding up the implementation of the Manbij road map and of immediate withdrawal of the YPG terrorists from the region. He noted that Turkey was determined to take all necessary measures to ensure its border security and regional stability,” the Turkish defence ministry statement read.
In mid-December 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara was ready to launch a military operation against the YPG if the United States did not compel them to abandon territory they had taken (from Daesh terrorists) to the west of the Euphrates River. Trump agreed to withdraw US troops supporting the YPG from the city. In late December, however, the Syrian government sent troops to Manbij “after Kurdish fighters appealed to Damascus for help against the threat of attack by Turkey in the face of the withdrawal of US troops from the area”, according to The Guardian.
Ankara considers the YPG the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU and the US, according to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
Over the past years, the relations between Turkey and the United States have been hampered by Ankara’s concerns over US support for the YPG, viewed by the Turkish authorities as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed as a terrorist organisation in the country. Ankara has repeatedly accused Washington of failing to fulfil its promises regarding the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij.
Turkey believes that the YPG presence near its border threatens its national security. Turkish and US troops are operating in Syria without the consent of Damascus, but US forces will leave the country once Daesh is defeated and Kurdish fighters are assured protection, US national security adviser John Bolton announced on Sunday.