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DECEMBER 2020

Turkey Still Aims To Capture Manbij Despite Syrian Army Deployment There

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Turkey Still Aims To Capture Manbij Despite Syrian Army Deployment There

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Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring has cleared the area of 1,000km2 in northeastern Syria from ‘terrorists’, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stold the 7th Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (Turkic Council) in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on October 15.

“As of this morning [October 15], we have liberated an area of around 1,000 square kilometers from the occupation of the separatist terror group,” Erdogan said.

Hinting to Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria, Erdogan said that “terror groups are the biggest source of threat to peace, tranquility, and stability in our region”.

He recalled the US support to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria saying that one terrorist group (the YPG in the view of Ankara) should not be supported to fight another one – ISIS.

Erdogan claimed that Turkey aims to clear northern Syria of ‘terrorists’ stretching from the city of Manbij to the Iraqi-Turkish border and to provide voluntary resettlement of around 3 million Syrians to their home.

The statement of Erdogan goes contrary to the situtation on the ground and sets ground for a further escalation in the region. Units of the Syrian Army and the Russian Military Police already entered Manbij and it is highly unlikely that they would handover it to Turkey. Therefore, any Turkish advance on Manbij will lead to a conflict with Moscow and Damascus.

At the same time, the US is in doubt what it really wants from the current situation. The Trump administration ordered to withdraw troops from northern Syria, but imposed sanctions on Turkey when it launched a military operation using the withdrawal.

The US rejected a request for help from its ‘local Kurdish allies’, but now it’s opposing to the implementation of the deal between the Damascus government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

On October 15, President Trump spoke by phone to both President Erdogan and the head of the SDF and called for a halt to the Turkish offensive in Syria.

“President Trump communicated to [Mr Erdoğan] very clearly that the US wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an immediate ceasefire, and begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria,” US Vice President Mike Pence said.

Pence noted that he would travel to Turkey at the head of a US delegation to broker an agreement between the sides. This development is hardly possible in the current situation.

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