MIDDLE EAST

Turkey warns US over increasing YPG activity in Manbij

Turkey warned U.S. authorities regarding the fortification activities of the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in northern Syria's Manbij, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said yesterday, adding that measures to solve the issue have also been taken.

"The terror group must know that when the time and place comes, it will be buried in the trenches it has dug," Akar told Anadolu Agency (AA), referring to trenches and embankments recently dug by terrorists from the YPG in the city center despite the Manbij deal between the two countries that had envisaged the removal of the militants from the city center.

According to recent media reports, the YPG is planning to retain its control over the city and has been preparing for a likely Turkish operation since July despite the Manbij agreement announced in early June that foresaw a three-month timetable for the withdrawal of the YPG from the city and joint patrols to be conducted by the militaries of both countries.

Satellite pictures of the city revealed that YPG forces dug 29.3 kilometers of trenches around the city. The terrorist organization also controls the city's entries and departures through these trenches. Tunnels linking the trenches enable the group to move freely.

Akar also announced that despite all these complications, Turkish and U.S. soldiers began joint training on combined patrols in Manbij yesterday.

"As of today, the Turkish and U.S. armed forces began joint training on combined patrolling activities, which will be held in the region, as part of the Manbij road map and security principles," he said.

The patrols are part of the Manbij road map to defuse tension amid Ankara's demands for the withdrawal of the U.S.-backed YPG militia from the region.

Underscoring that the first group of U.S. personnel arrived in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey on Oct. 2 for training, Akar said, "Following the completion of training, common united patrolling activities will begin in an effort to establish stability and security in the region and to prevent terrorist activities in the future."

Turkey's independent patrolling in Manbij has been "continuing as planned" since June 18, he added.

MHP leader blasts Washington's

negligence on Manbij deal

Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also criticized Washington's indifference on the implementation of the Manbij deal yesterday as the YPG continues to build up fortifications around the city's center.

"These terrorists are supposed to leave Manbij. So, what is the meaning of those ditches then?" Bahçeli said in the party group meeting in Ankara.

Bahçeli also touched on the PKK attack last week in eastern Turkey that killed eight Turkish soldiers, calling for an operation in the Qandil mountains to eliminate the PKK's leadership, who have been hiding in the region for years. "We want complete eradication of these killers. They can be brought to Turkey just like FETÖ members that were captured abroad," he said.

The Qandil mountains, located roughly 40 kilometers southeast of the Turkish border in Iraq's Irbil province, are being used as the headquarters of the PKK and its Iranian affiliate, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), although the area is under the de jure control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The area has frequently been hit by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the last decade. The Turkish army has also intensified operations in the Qandil mountains since March, entering about 20 kilometers of Iraqi territory.

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