TURKEY

FM Çavuşoğlu to discuss Manbij's future with American counterpart Pompeo

FM ÇAVUŞOĞLU TO DISCUSS MANBIJS FUTURE WITH AMERICAN COUNTERPART POMPEO

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday that the meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Mike Pompeo, on June 4 in Washington, D.C. will focus on Manbij, currently occupied by the PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG), which is backed by the U.S."It is important that the YPG retreats from Manbij but it is not enough, it is also important to stabilize all regions under YPG control," Çavuşoğlu said.

He also underlined that the U.S.'s support to the YPG is the main reason of deteriorating ties between the countries and therefore ousting it from Syria will be a significant step for both Syria's future and the ties between Turkey and the U.S.

Despite Turkey's objections, the YPG moved to capture Manbij in August 2016, shortly ahead of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield which was launched on Aug. 24, 2016 to both drive Daesh terrorists away from its border areas and deny the YPG the chance to expand further west.

The YPG is the dominant group in the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which controls almost one-third of Syrian territory located east of the Euphrates River.

Ankara and Washington previously agreed to hold talks through mechanisms to resolve the problems. When then U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Ankara on Feb. 16, he stated that "We are not going to act alone any longer, not the U.S. doing one thing, Turkey doing another." He put great emphasis on the cooperation between sides to reach resolutions. However, following the replacement of Tillerson the talks were suspended. Ankara expects to maintain the understanding that was reached with Tillerson in its meetings with Pompeo.

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