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Coalition: We will continue to stay in Manbij 'until told otherwise'

By Rudaw 27/1/2018
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The US-led Coalition who supports the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria in their fight against ISIS has told Rudaw that they will continue to stay in the Kurdish-held Manbij, just hours after Turkey warned the United States to remove their troops stationed there immediately.

Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for the Coalition, told Rudaw TV on Saturday evening that they have been very “transparent” with Turkey over the delivery of equipment to the SDF force within the frame of the ISIS war. He praised the SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters in northern Syria for their war against the extremist group.

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Dillon said.

Ankara claimed on Saturday that the US National Security Adviser HR McMaster “confirmed” during a Friday phone call with the spokesperson of the Turkish presidency that the US will no longer provide weapons to the YPG, the backbone of the SDF force in Syria.

“The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat Daesh,” Dillon said of their support to the SDF who spearheaded the operation to liberate areas in northern Syria including Raqqa.

He explained though “This equipment [provided to SDF] is especially for the fight against ISIS.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister also on Saturday requested the US military to remove their troops stationed in Manbij “immediately,” a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that the so-called Operation Olive Branch may continue all the way to the Iraqi border with Syria including Manbij.

The SDF, backed by the Coalition, liberated the town from ISIS militants in August 2016.

“Manbij is now thriving,” Dillon said.

“It is getting back to life. There are projects and stabilization efforts that are a model for other areas that had been held by ISIS in the past. So we will continue to operate there until told to do otherwise.”

He said that the Coalition and their SDF partners on the ground are still fighting ISIS in the Middle Euphrates Valley, adding that clashes continue on a daily basis with casualties from both sides, ISIS and SDF.

ISIS militants are still in control of 2 percent of territory they once controlled when they first emerged in 2014, a fact that necessitates the Coalition’s support on the ground to the SDF, Dillon said.

“ISIS is still a threat to the region, still a threat to Turkey,” he said about the ISIS threat in the Middle East, and to the outside world.

The Coalition is determined to remain focused on the fight against ISIS along with their SDF partner forces.

“Our partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces have done a remarkable job by doing exactly that,” he said about the commitment of the Kurdish-led force in Syria in the war against ISIS.

No other force took the fight against ISIS like the SDF, and are continuing to do that to achieve a “lasting defeat of ISIS,” Dillon said in praise of the SDF record in Syria.

He explained that the Coalition believes that preventing the reemergence of ISIS is just as important, and therefore they will continue to provide training and equipment to local forces in liberated areas including in Syria such as Raqqa and Manbij, two areas under the Kurdish control.

“After an area has been cleared, there are hold forces that would maintain security in that area, and we also provide the training and the equipping for Internal Security Forces,” Dillon said as he mentioned Raqqa, Manbij and Tabqa as examples for doing so.

“The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat Daesh,” Dillon said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Turkish military operations have continued on Saturday for the eighth day in a row against the Kurdish-held canton of Afrin in northwestern Syria on the border with Turkey. Ankara, backed by the so-called Free Syrian Army, wants to drive out US-backed Kurdish militants, the YPG, from the border strip.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization, though no other country, including the US shares the same designation for the Kurdish force.

The Turkish military incursion has made little to no progress despite days of intensive artillery and airstrikes conducted against the Kurdish held areas in Afrin.

The two sides have reported inflicting great damage on one another, but tend to lower their own casualties.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have reported the deaths of at least 38 civilians since the operation began last Saturday, two were killed by the SDF.

Both Ankara and SDF deny they ever target civilians.

The United Nations stated they were “alarmed” as they reported that at least 11 children were killed.

Health workers in Afrin warned that they fear the operation, if continued, would lead to a humanitarian “tragedy.”

"Medication and humanitarian aid necessary to help civilians will soon run out," said Khalil Sabri Ahmed, head of the main hospital in Afrin.


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Mohamedzzz | 27/1/2018
Under any condition US should not abandon Kurds their only faithful partners in the area, it's time to dump Turkey and replacethem with the Kurds, Turkey betrayed US in every occasion since the Iraq war.
Friend of SDF | 27/1/2018
The battle for Manbij was won by the SDF, with the help of the US coalition. Turkey should have no say in what happens there. Stay on your side of the border. Or are you trying to bring back your Ottoman glory days. The world doesn't need another Islamo-republic to spread your brand of terrorism. Maybe if you had treated the Kurds as equals you wouldn't be in this position. Karma can be a bitch.
Eugene | 27/1/2018
I hope the best for all people..we are in the era of strong-men arising...they say things like " America 1st","Turkey 1st", "Austria 1st",'China 1st",and "Russia 1st"......and sometimes they can be destructive to their neighbors,conquering,threating,surpressing.....Who will pay for all of the damaged buildings?..Is Afrin to become"Turkish-Syria"..will they leave tanks,troops,soldiers in place like Russia did in Hungary in 1956? Has Turkey just turned into a colonial power?
Turkish rat | 27/1/2018
keep holding positions against turkish rats
GOKCE KAVAK | 27/1/2018
The United States 🇺🇸 is hesitant to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to antagonise against Turkey 🇹🇷 and Turkey 🇹🇷, as is all around the remarkable universe and as globe are going to define the mutual threat as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as I prompted against the United States 🇺🇸 to be adapting to the mutual threat and Turkey 🇹🇷 is going to continue to antagonise against the United States 🇺🇸 overall very completely at all while the United States 🇺🇸 is going to count the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to recognise the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Turkey 🇹🇷 is going to call it the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and to persistently continue to attack against the United States 🇺🇸 and what their calling is Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at all, very completely.

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