Turkey says it expects Syrian Kurdish fighters to leave Manbij now that it has been freed from the hands of Takfiri terrorists.
On Friday, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that they had liberated Manbij after launching a final assault to flush the remaining Daesh militants out of the city, located 446 kilometers (277 miles) north of the capital Damascus.
“The US promised that the (Syrian Kurdish) forces within the coalition and democratic forces there would move east of the Euphrates again following the Manbij operation,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (seen below).
The SDF is a coalition of Arab fighters and Kurdish YPG forces which Turkey views as an extension of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region in southeastern Turkey since 1984.
In a statement released on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stressed that the liberation of Manbij was an important step in the fight against Daesh and thanked Turkey for its cooperation.
“For the people of Manbij city, now begins the difficult job of rebuilding their homes and communities, and I call on all of our coalition partners to help them with that task,” he said. “For its part, the military coalition will continue to work with capable and motivated local forces to defeat Daesh and ensure it remains defeated.”
Manbij lies along the only supply line of Daesh between the Syrian-Turkish border to the north and the group’s main Syria stronghold of Raqqah, which lies to the southeast. Its liberation marks the biggest strategic defeat for Daesh in Syria since July 2015, when the terrorist group lost the strategically important town of Tal Abyad on Syria’s border with Turkey.
The SDF fighters launched an operation to retake Manbij two months ago. The city was under Daesh control for more than two years.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. Back in 2014, the UN said it would no more update its official death toll for Syria because it could not verify the figures that it received from various sources.