Bekir Bozdag, Deputy Prime Minister for Turkey, has suggested that Turkey still intends to move on from Afrin and reclaim Manbij while eliminating the YPG presence there and eventually moving on to the PKK in Sinjar. Bozdag told Turkish media, “Just as Afrin was cleared of the YPG/PYD terror organization, now Tal Rifaat will be cleared. Manbij [Syria] will be next, and it will be followed by the east of the Euphrates,” earlier this week. Tal Rifaat is a city north of Aleppo that has a population of roughly 25 thousand residents, many of them being displaced from Afrin recently.
The Turkish government is claiming that the United States government has backtracked on a declaration that they would remove the Syrian Democratic Forces from Manbij. Turkey views the SDF as an umbrella organization for both the PKK and YPG. The United States led coalition has consistently supplied and backed both the YPG and SDF during the Islamic State war, even going so far to set up civil and military councils within Rojava (Syrian-Kurdistan). Haval Dilyar Sozdar, a commander with the SDF in Manbij, told local media that the Turkish military forces, “attack us with heavy artillery and target villagers and destroy their houses. Sometimes children are injured and villagers are left in poor conditions.” Another commander, Abu Ali Najim stated that the attackers recently employed, “some new forces, of course, with new artillery.”
Turkey has also conduct a great deal of airstrikes and artillery attacks in northern Iraqi-Kurdistan. They have also moved troops into 8 outpost in the mountains, 20 kilometers inside Kurdistan’s border. Despite the PKK’s departure from Sinjar, Turkish military forces are neglecting to back down and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is becoming concerned. Bozdag said in regards to this that, “We really want Shingal and other places to be cleared of the terror group and terrorists. We have no problem when it is done, but if not, then Turkey has the power and ability to clear out these terrorists.”
Kurdistan Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani addressed the attacks in the north by saying,
There is a reason why this is happening. That reason must first be resolved. So long as this reason is not resolved, you cannot talk about the fallout. As the Kurdistan Region, we have a principle. Our principle is that the territories of the Kurdistan Region must in no way be used to attack, to cause violence against our neighbors. This policy as a principle stands the same for Turkey, Iran or Syria.”
Featured Image: In this photo taken on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, a member of the Kurdish internal security forces patrols a commercial street in Manbij, north Syria. Manbij, a mixed Arab and Kurdish town of nearly 400,000, was liberated from Islamic State militants in 2016 by the YPG fighters with backing from U.S-led coalition airstrikes. With Turkey’s threats, the town has become the axle for U.S. policy in Syria, threatening its prestige and military deployment in eastern Syria. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)