Turkey resolute to clear Syria's Manbij of PYD/PKK
If the PYD/PKK do not leave the Syrian city, we will remove them using our own means, says Turkish FM
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Tuesday that Turkey would dislodge the PYD/PKK from Manbij should the terrorist group not leave the northwestern Syrian district as promised.
"If the PYD/PKK do not leave Manbij -- we told this to the Americans as well -- we will remove them by our own means," said Cavusoglu during an interview aired on private Turkish channel Kanal 24.
The PYD/PKK has been enlarging its dominance west of the Euphrates River since last December and reinforcing its presence in the region in the fight against Daesh.
The group has enlarged its borders through the northern parts of Manbij -- located in the northwestern Aleppo province -- after the city was cleared of Daesh militants with the support of Arab fighters and U.S airstrikes over the summer.
On Friday, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Ankara was waiting for the PKK/PYD to withdraw east of the Euphrates River.
The PKK and its Syrian offshoot the PYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey although the U.S. and the EU only view the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Operation Euphrates Shield was launched in August to rid the north Syrian border area of terrorists. The campaign has seen both Daesh and the PKK/PYD targeted by the Free Syrian Army and Turkish tanks, artillery and aircraft.
Concerning the situation in northern Iraq, Cavusoglu said that should Turkey be threatened, it would use all means available, including a land operation.
"This is our incontestable right," he said. "We support Iraq's territorial integrity more than anyone, as well as Syria's. We want stability and peace to come to these places. [...] If a threat arises, we will take all precautionary measures allowed by international law," he said.
Last week, the Iraqi army, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-anticipated operation to retake Mosul, the last Daesh stronghold in northern Iraq.
Turkey has maintained a training base near Bashiqa, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Mosul. Their presence has created tension between Ankara and Baghdad, with Iraqi lawmakers calling for their removal.
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