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Cavusoglu Says Manbij Strategically Important for Turkey - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Ankara, Beirut-Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu stated on Tuesday that nearly 200 fighters from the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) have yet to withdraw east of the Euphrates in Syria as he urged the U.S. to keep its promise on the matter – or else Turkey will take the “necessary actions.”

Speaking in a Parliamentary planning and budget committee that convened on Tuesday evening, Cavusoglu informed committee members about the upcoming Raqqa operation in Syria.

Cavusoglu said Washington has told Ankara that the YPG would only take part in the battle for Raqqa and not enter the city.

He added that several weeks remain until the Raqqa offensive is kicked off.

“We hope the Americans will keep their promise,” he said, adding that Turkey is nevertheless “taking measures” after its partners did not keep promises regarding the Syrian city of Manbij, from which Ankara has repeatedly demanded the YPG withdraw.

Turkey is frustrated at the presence of Kurdish forces in Manbij, a strategically important northern Syrian city, whose liberation prompted Turkish intervention, as it is close to the Turkish border.

The residents of Raqqa would not welcome Kurdish forces, the Turkish minister also suggested. If “terrorists enter into the city … we should not force the people to choose between two evils.”

A Raqqa-based Syrian activist said ISIS militants have prevented residents of a village that was bombed by the coalition forces from leaving, imposing a curfew there.

Both the Raqqa activist group and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that ISIS militants have blown up a number of bridges over irrigation canals north of Raqqa, where Syrian Democratic Forces are based, in an apparent attempt to curtail their forces’ advances.