By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
Turkey will attack the terrorist PKK/PYD in Manbij, northern Syria "unless the group withdraws," Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday.
Speaking to journalists outside the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey and the United States "must not face off against each other because of Turkey's fight against other terrorist groups," meaning groups besides Daesh, the main focus of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Iraq.
"We do not wish any of our allies to stand with terrorist groups," Cavusoglu said. "We stated earlier that Turkey will hit the YPG unless they withdraw from Manbij."
The YPG is the armed wing of the terrorist group PKK/PYD in Syria.
Cavusoglu also said that with an operation on Manbij, the aim is to leave the area to "its true owners."
Cavusoglu said Ankara and Washington are currently discussing how to implement a possible Raqqah operation and how Turkey would support the operation.
"There are other coalition countries that are active in the field like France, Germany, and the United Kingdom," Cavusoglu said. "We are discussing issues such as how we will do air support."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters could lead the Raqqa offensive.
While the Obama administration saw the PYD as a “reliable ally,” Turkey has consistently stressed that it is part and parcel of the terrorist PKK.
The new Trump administration’s policy on the PYD is still emerging.
Since it resumed its armed campaign in July 2015, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of approximately 1,200 security personnel and civilians, including women and children.
The PKK/PYD has been accused by human rights groups of committing significant human rights violations in northern and northeastern Syria, including "ethnic cleansing" massacres.
The Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield began last August to improve security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border using Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish artillery and jets.