Turkey Rejects US Claims Kurds Have Left Manbij
Turkish forces and the Syrian Kurdish YPG have exchanged fire across the border between Turkey and Syria today, according to military officials. There were as yet no details about the casualties, but the fighting does point to Turkey’s operations inside Syria, since their invasion two weeks ago, moving into a new anti-Kurdish phase.
Both sides accuse the other of firing first, and look officials in Afrin, the Kurdish-held town, denied that they returned any fire at all, insisting it was simply another round of “Turkish aggression” that threatened to ignite a war against them.
Turkey made much of invading Syria not just to fight ISIS, but to expel the Kurds from west of the Euphrates River. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter today reiterated that the Kurdish YPG had totally withdrawn from Manbij. Turkish officials have repeatedly said that the Kurds have not withdrawn from the area.
A US-backed offensive by Kurdish forces seized Manbij last month, capping two and a half months of fighting with ISIS. Turkey claimed US assurances that the Kurds would not keep Manbij, on the western shore of the river, and Turkey invaded the following week, capturing the ISIS city of Jarabulus, due north of Manbij.
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