Turkey in ‘last-ditch’ efforts against YPG in Syria, says group’s official

People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters in northern Syria.

A People’s Protection Units (YPG) official has told Kom News that Turkey is making desperate attempts to stop support for the Kurdish group.

Turkey has reiterated its desire to remove the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), from Manbij, urging both the United States and Russia not to support “terrorist groups” in Syria.

“What is important for us is to clear Manbij of YPG elements. Why did the YPG go there? To establish its terrorist canton and to gain more territory,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday.

Speaking to Kom News on condition of anonymity, a YPG official on Friday said Turkey’s attempts were “last-ditch efforts to terrorise the YPG.”

“Turkish officials’ statements are desperate last-ditch efforts to turn public opinion against the YPG. But this is not possible. The YPG in the ranks of the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] is leading the operation to liberate Raqqa. It is Turkey that is supporting terrorist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham to invade Syria.”

The official said the YPG had made the most sacrifices to defeat the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group in Syria and deserved respect and support for this.

Responding to Cavusoglu’s claims of YPG presence in Manbij, the official rejected this saying, “Our fighters left the town after helping liberate it from IS last year. It is now defended by Manbij Military Council, which is comprised of local fighters.”

Cavusoglu’s assertion that the YPG would not leave Raqqa following the city’s capture from IS was also contested by the official who said the city would be handed over to a civilian council formed of locals.

“We have given all areas liberated by our forces to civilian councils formed of local men and women. The defence and security of these areas, like Manbij, is also conducted by local fighters,” he responded.

Cavusoglu had concluded his press statement on Thursday by reiterating that Turkey would not permit the Syrian Kurds to link its Kobani and Afrin cantons in northern Syria.

In his response, the YPG official dismissed what he called “Turkish threats” and said they were continuing to work towards the elimination of all aggressive groups in Syria.

“We are working towards a democratic and federal solution to the Syrian conflict and will do whatever is necessary to achieve this,” he said.

The official also said Turkey’s claims that it had killed 71 YPG fighters between 2-9 March was “laughable” and that Turkish military sources multiplied numbers by 10 or 20. “In this case it is a complete lie because there are no YPG fighters in Manbij,” he concluded.

Following its capture of al-Bab from IS, Turkey had said its next target would be Manbij to push the YPG forces to the east of the Euphrates River. After Turkish-backed FSA factions attacked villages to the west of Manbij, the Manbij Military Council reached an agreement with Russia to transfer the defence of the line to the west of Manbij (Arima) to Syrian government forces.

The United States has also deployed more forces to the same area in a bid to prevent a potential Turkish operation.

However reports of clashes between Turkish Euphrates Shield forces and Syrian government forces lead to the death of at least 8 soldiers on Thursday. Clashes have also broken out between Turkish forces and Manbij Military Council fighters, with casualties not confirmed.