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Turkey says 'understanding' reached with US on Syria's Manbij Open in fullscreen

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Turkey says 'understanding' reached with US on Syria's Manbij

Ankara and allied rebel groups captured Afrin from Kurdish militia on Sunday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 March, 2018

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Turkey had vowed to expand its military operation in northern Syria to other Kurdish-held areas after capturing Afrin, including Manbij.

Turkey said on Wednesday that it has reached an "understanding, not an agreement" with the United States over the northern Syrian town of Manbij, days after expelling Kurdish forces from Afrin.

Ankara and allied rebel groups captured the city from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday, after a two-month offensive on the broader Afrin region.

Turkey had vowed to expand its military operation in northern Syria to other Kurdish-held areas after capturing Afrin, including Manbij.

"We will continue this process until we entirely eliminate this corridor, including in Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara sought an agreement with Washington over who will secure Manbij after the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia withdraws from the area.

Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted the understanding with the United States over Manbij, where US troops are stationed, to be a model for all areas controlled by the YPG.

The US-led coalition has steadily backed the SDF since the alliance's formation in 2015, providing it with airstrikes, advisors, and eventually weapons to fight IS.

After helping the SDF capture Manbij from IS, US military troops remained in the town, which lies in Syria's northern province of Aleppo.

Ankara fears a powerful Kurdish presence on its southern border and was enraged when the SDF took Manbij, saying it had been promised the US-backed militia would not expand west of the Euphrates River.

Senior Turkish officials have been threatening to capture Manbij ever since

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