Turkey will end its military operation in Syria after the town of Manbij is captured, Ilnur Cevik, adviser to Turkish President Recep Erdogan said on February 27 at a conference in Moscow.
“Ankara is trying to regain its presence there,” Cevik said, adding “As soon Manbij is captured, Turkey will stop its operation in Syria.”
Cevik said Ankara is setting up a 56-mile “buffer zone” into Manbij. According to Cevik, this move is explained by the fact that about 85 percent of Manbij and surrounding areas are controlled by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), described as a terrorist organization by Turkey.
Ankara sees the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a Syrian branch of the PKK.
At the same time, the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces”, which allegedly control the area, are just a branding effort to hide the fact that the US supports the YPG in Syria.
Indeed, the US leadership promised to Erdogan in 2016 that YPG units would withdraw from the Manbij area. However, this “promise” was ignored by US-backed Kurdish forces.
In case of a direct confrontation with the YPG, Ankara will be pushed to deploy more troops and military equipment to Syria. A high number of artillery, battle tanks and the air power are the main advantages of the Turkish army and its proxies. However, even in this case, the battle against the YPG will not be so easy for Ankara-led forces.
The operation in al-Bab clearly showed that fighters of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) are not so good in a direct confrontation against motivates opponents.