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Turkey threatens new battle with YPG over Syria's Manbij

Erdogan has made repeated threats to take the Syrian town of Manbij [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 March, 2018

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Turkey has threatened to take action against the YPG in Manbij, unless the Kurdish militia don't retreat from the Syrian town.

Turkey could soon take military action against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the Syrian town of Manbij, the country's security agency warned Wednesday.

Ankara has issued a number of threats against Kurdish fighters based in Manbij, which operate under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) umbrella.

Unlike other areas of Syria where the Turkish military operate, Manbij has a strong US military presence.

That has not prevented Turkey's National Security Council [MGK] - which is chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - from issuing a new threat to take the town.

"It has been stated that terrorists [YPG] in Manbij should leave the region immediately, otherwise Turkey will not hesitate to take the initiative there as it did in other regions," the MGK said in a statement.

Turkey has launched two major military operations in Syria. Euphrates Shield was aimed at taking areas of northern Syria from the Islamic State group, but soon Ankara forces clashed with Kurdish fighters who were taking part in a separate military campaign against the jihadis.

This year, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch which aimed at capturing YPG territories in north-west Syria, around the town of Afrin.

Erdogan has threatened many times to launch a new campaign against the Kurdish-dominated, US-backed SDF in Manbij, which lies close to the Turkish border. 

This could put them on a collision course with their NATO ally the US, with talk that Kurdish fighters could be withdrawn from Manbij to appease Ankara.

The US has repeatedly warned against a new conflict between the YPG and Turkey, saying it could derail the campaign against IS.

Although nearly defeated in Syria, IS still has a chance of regrouping if instability prevails, experts say.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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