‘Cleanse them’: Turkey threatens to send troops to Syria’s Manbij unless US removes Kurdish militias

‘Cleanse them’: Turkey threatens to send troops to Syria’s Manbij unless US removes Kurdish militias
The US must have Kurdish militias withdraw from the Syrian town of Manbij, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday, otherwise he will order his troops to take the key settlement.

The threat, delivered during a speech in Istanbul, ramps up Erdogan’s rhetoric targeting the YPG militias. Earlier on Wednesday, he publicly complained that the US, which support the Kurds in northeastern Syria, is failing to deliver on its promise to clear Manbij of Kurdish fighters. Ankara considers Syrian Kurdish paramilitaries as an extension of the Turkey-based anti-government guerrillas and brands the YPG as terrorists.

“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization,” the Turkish president told a judiciary conference. “Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly.”

Manbij is located west from the Euphrates river on a key road leading to the city of Aleppo. Turkey considers all parts of Syria bordering it as sensitive from the standpoint of security, but reluctantly agreed that the US could deal with the situation east of the river, where historically Kurdish lands are located.

Earlier this week, Erdogan announced his intention to launch a military operation in the Kurdish areas “within days.” In the speech he confirmed the plans, saying Turkey was “determined to bring peace and security to the areas east of the Euphrates.”

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The US warned Turkey against implementing the plans, saying unilateral military action would hurt military cooperation between the countries.

The Kurdish side said it would respond strongly to any attack by Turkey.

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