The Manbij military council, a multi-ethnic assembly for the various groups that successfully liberated Manbij from the Islamic State (IS) group last year, has responded to Turkish plans to capture Manbij, Raqqa and even Afrin after their assault on al-Bab as part of the Turkish army’s Euphrates Shield operation.
Speaking to Firat News Agency (ANF), the Manbij Military Council announced that they will not accept any kind of military intervention by the Turkish army and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups it is backing, adding that Manbij will be defended if any such attack comes.
The Manbij Military Council members also said that the Turkish army has been attacking their positions with artillery fire and the FSA has been robbing civilians in the region.
Kawa Manbij, the commander of the fighters said, “[Turkish President] Erdogan says that Turkey will enter Manbij, they have no right to invade our lands. We are the children of Manbij, we were born here and we are protecting our town.”
“A few days ago, the people of Manbij protested Erdogan. Our friends were martyred while liberating these lands. The YPG and YPJ also helped to liberate Manbij but they left the city after the operations were completed. The Turkish army’s mortar bombs were fired into our villages causing civilian casualties,” the commander added.
The council members also claim that FSA groups have been robbing people at the borders.
“As the people and defenders of Manbij, we do not believe such groups can benefit us,” said another council member.
Refik Sellum, a fighter in the Manbij Military Council, said, “The Turkish army-backed FSA has no intention of saving Manbij, they are a group of thieves. They don’t want the people of Manbij to build a democratic system. Erdogan claims that they are fighting against Daesh [a regional acronym for the Islamic State], we do not believe this. We will defend our lands if they try to enter Manbij.”
Last week Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that Turkish troops would move on to take Manbij and Raqqa after the al-Bab operation in order to form a safe zone for “mainly our Arab and Turkmen brothers and sisters to settle into.”