Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Washington Pushes Back Kurds East of Euphrates as Ankara Consolidates its Presence | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter walks in the silos and mills of Manbij after the SDF took control of it, in Aleppo Governorate, Syria, July 1, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Rodi Said)

Beirut, Ankara-Syrian Kurds have accepted a U.S. request to withdraw from areas west of the Euphrates River to the east by already evacuating the countryside of Manbij and Jarablus.

The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced in a statement issued on Thursday that its forces participating in the operation to recuperate the city of Manbij from ISIS, had already returned to their bases after they had successfully achieved the operation.

However, the statement did not specify where the YPG bases were located.

A commander from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the forces had withdrawn on Aug. 15 from Manbij after recuperating the city from ISIS militants. “The city was handed over to the Manbij Military Council and the Manbij Civil Council,” he said.

A spokesperson for the U.S.-sponsored alliance against ISIS in Syria said that “the basic units” of the SDF, which include units from the YPG had already moved east of the Euphrates River.

In Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the military operation backed by the U.S. to liberate Syria’s Jarablus from ISIS terrorists will continue until elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s Syrian affiliate YPG retreats to the east bank of Euphrates.

Yildirim’s comments came as Turkey sent a large number of its tanks, warplanes and special operations forces into the Turkish border town of Karkamis with an aim to start dismantling cluster bombs planted in the Syrian part of the border crossing.

Earlier, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the Kurdish militias would have to meet a Turkish demand by withdrawing to the eastern side of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria.

Turkey demands that Kurdish fighters retreat to the east of the Euphrates in a week.

Meanwhile, in Geneva, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura announced on Thursday that Russia had accepted a 48-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo to allow aid deliveries.

“We are very much focused in maintaining our line, we want a 48-hour pause, the Russian Federation replied ‘yes’, we will wait for others to do the same,” de Mistura told reporters.

Officials at the U.N. said that the international organization awaits security guarantees from the other parties currently fighting in Syria.

However, the Syrian opposition had placed conditions before accepting the ceasefire. It said aid deliveries should enter the eastern parts of the city through the Ramouseh road, which the factions control, and not through the regime-controlled Castello crossing.