The situation over the northern Syrian town of Manbij has been rapidly developing since the June 4 announcement by the US and Turkey that they had endorsed a roadmap to solve the tensions over the issue.
On June 5, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced that what they described as their “military advisers” will leave the town. The militia claimed in a statement that its forces withdrew from Manbij in November 2016, but the military advisers remained to work with the Manbij Military Council (MMC).
However, the YPG said its forces would “heed the call when necessary to offer support and help to the people of Manbij should it be needed”.
Both the MMC and the YPG are part of a US-backed coalition of militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, the YPG, its female branch the YPJ and its political wing the PYD clearly dominate in the group by number of the involved fighters and the political and military influence.
Ankara says that the YPG, the YPJ and the YPG are terrorist groups, local brands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is recognized as terrorist group by both Turkey and the US. The group is involved in a long-standing militancy against the Turkish government and de-facto seeks to establish an independent Kurdish state, which will include southern Turkey.
The US-Turkish roadmap for Manbij allegedly includes three phases to clear Manbij from YPG/PKK elements and affilated figures in the local authorities and to set a new local administration. In other words, even if Manbij formally remains in the “hands” of the SDF, a very differnt group of figures and fighters will take the real control in the town.
On June 5, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that YPG/YPJ/PYD/PKK groups in northern Syria will be disarmed in the framework of the reached roadmap.
“In the first phase, terrorist YPG will withdraw from Manbij. They will disarm as they withdraw. They will move to the east of the Euphrates. However, that does not mean we will accept that they stay there,” Cavusoglu said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
He added that the roadmap will be implemented in the east of the Euphrates too.
“Thus, this roadmap has to be fully implemented, on which we have agreed. Both sides have the determination on this,” he said.
According to Cavusoglu, intelligence, military, defense officials and diplomats are set to hold a preparatory meeting in 10 days to set a foothold for the implementation of the plan.