Turkey and the US have only achieved “mutual understanding” on the future of Manbij city in Northern Syria without reaching any definitive agreement, Turkish sources reported.
During a press conference in Ankara, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced that the two countries have not agreed yet on who will secure the city after the withdrawal of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Previoulsy it was reported that the US agreed to make the SDF withdraw from the city located near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Cavusoglu added that after Manbij, Turkey expects SDF to withdraw from other areas in Northern Syria.
This statement came only a few days after the Turkish troops supported by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have captured Afrin city, the main Kurdish stronghols in Aleppo and the capital of the eponymous enclave.
The Turkish troops and the FSA militants managed to enter Afrin after almost two months since the beginning of the Olive Branch operation.
By capturing Afrin the Turkish forces cut the region into three isolated pockets ans opened the road to Idlib forces, where several Turkish observation points had been already established.
Turkish President Rejep Erdogan congratulated the nation on the success of the operation, saying that not a single civilian had been harmed during the clashes, a claim disputed by human rights activists who have reported dozens of civilian casualties.
In turn, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) representative Othman Sheikh Issa accused Turkish forces of committing an “ethnic cleansing” in Afrin and vowed to continue resistance by employing guerrilla war tactic.
Late January, the Turkish army supported by Free Syrian Army factions has launched operation Olive Branch seeking to capture the Kurdish-dominated region of Afrin in Aleppo province. Despite stubborn resistance of the YPG units, the Turkish troops managed to capture the section of the Syrian-Turkish border near the region and established control over several villages.
The Turkish offensive had a negative impact on the relations between Turkey and the US, which is supporting the Syrian Kurds as its main partner in the fight against ISIS. Moreover, the perspective of Turkish troops entering Manbij directly threatens the US military bases located several kilometres west of the city.