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US spokesperson calls Manbij roadmap with Turkey 'huge step forward'

By Rudaw 8/6/2018
Eric Pahon, a US Department of Defense spokesperson for Iraq and Syria, speaks to Rudaw in Brussels, Belgium, on June 8, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV
Eric Pahon, a US Department of Defense spokesperson for Iraq and Syria, speaks to Rudaw in Brussels, Belgium, on June 8, 2018. Photo: Rudaw TV

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson underscored that "bilateral roadmap" reached by the United States and Turkey is a "huge step forward."

"We are encouraged. This is great dialogue between the US and our NATO ally Turkey and we look forward to this increased cooperation," Pahon told Rudaw on Friday.

He spoke to Rudaw on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting at NATO headquarters in Belgium.

"This is a commitment to work forward in Manbij to come to a resolution that both addresses Turkey's legitimate security concerns, the needs of the people in Manbij, a push forward for local representative governance that suites everybody that's involved," added Pahon.

Top Turkish and US diplomats agreed on a path forward in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on Tuesday, although details were scant.

Ankara's primary concern is the presence of People's Protection Units (YPG) in the city west of the Euphrates. Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a listed terrorist organization by Ankara and Washington.

The YPG have formed the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"They have fought valiantly. They have sacrificed greatly to retake lands in Syria," said Pahon of the SDF.

The US is concerned of an ISIS resurgence or evolution, if they completely pull out of Manbij, where they maintain a base as part of the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition.

"What we don't want to see is that resurgence of ISIS, so we still have quite some time to get to where we need to be. So for the foreseeable future, we'll be working in conjunction with the SDF," Pahon added.

Military and civil councils have been established in major population centers liberated by the SDF.

"We have to make sure that those small ISIS elements that squeezed out during the original taking back of land don't come back to cause a problem for the people there," Pahon said.

The YPG announced on Tuesday it had withdrawn its military advisors from Manbij; however, a spokesperson later told Rudaw that "YPG artillery in Manbij belongs to Manbij Military Council." 

Turkey has repeatedly called for the US to collect weapons provided to the YPG during the ISIS conflict, and it makes no distinction between the PKK, YPG, and SDF.

Pahon reiterated support for the SDF is "conditions-based."

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the plan will take place over three stages and will be concluded within six months.  


JamKurd | 9/6/2018
In fact “conditions-based” should have been the position of YPG instead. We used them to do the fighting for us with hundreds of young men and women martyred to liberate Arab cities of Raqqa, Manbij, Der Al Zour and other towns and villages. However, like all Kurds in the region they were fooled by the nice talk and empty promises to make them fight for us. We didn’t even help to save as prevent occupation of Kurdish Efrin as return of gratitude for their sacrafice. That should have been the condition of YPG in the first place. They helped us and we should have help them. The way it happens the help was only in one direction. So please save the empty words of fake support. Kurd have been fooled for the umpteen time. We favored a dictator called Erdogan who let thousands of ISIS through his borders over our Kurds allies. Well done!
pete | 9/6/2018
You cannot trust the Americans across the room. They are going to stab you in the back. They are as untrustworthy as Turks.
Outsider | 9/6/2018
@JamKurd: It was Erdogan who accepted 100,000s of Kurds from the area YPG now claims to have liberated. .. not to talk about 100s of actual YPG fighters who sought refuge in Turkey when ISIS attaced Kobani... how can you forget this fact? Interestingly, still around 350,000 of Kurds (UN estimate) are living in Turkey... why do they not return? Not to talk about the approx. 100,000 - 150,000 Kurds who made it to Europe... where did they first sought refuge...where mate?
Turks are psychopaths | 9/6/2018
The sdf is the us right and left hand and it’s soul and justification of ever beeing there and the us will stay there until all enemies are defeated. But the Turks are the real intruders that should get the fuck out of Middle East and go back to their altai mountains.

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