The price from its NATO allies of allowing Turkey to take over the town of Manbij in Syria from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) may be allowing the Kurdish force to retain Syrian territory east of the Euphrates, a parliamentarian for Turkey’s majority-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said.
The northern Syrian town of Manbij, west of the River Euphrates, has been under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG, since the summer of 2016.
While Turkish forces launched an offensive on Jan. 20 to drive the YPG from the enclave of Afrin to the west, U.S. military commanders have warned Turkey not touch Manbij, where U.S. troops are training the SDF to fight Islamic State.
“The permanent representatives of NATO members such as the United States, Canada, and some European countries ask Turkey’s representatives there (at the NATO assembly) this question: If the YPG leaves Afrin and goes to the east of the Euphrates, will you accept a (political) formation to the east of the Euphrates like that in northern Iraq?” Ziya Pir said in an interview with Ahval News.
“As far as I understand, a decision has been made to give a status to a formation to the east of the Euphrates. Now the west of the Euphrates is being discussed: Manbij or Afrin. There is haggling over whose control they will be under.”
There had been hundreds of civilian casualties so far in Turkey’s nearly two-month-old offensive against the northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin, Pir said.
“(My sources in Syria) said that from the start of the Afrin operation to the present day around 300 people had died,” he said.
“The numbers from other institutions fit with what Syrians I have spoken to have told me. The figures Turkey has given are completely utopian.”
Turkey has said not one civilian has been harmed in its air and ground assault. Pir said that by giving only figures for YPG and Turkish armed forces deaths but not those of civilians or Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants, Turkey was waging a psychological war.
“You inflate the losses on the other side and you understate your own losses. Everyone must know about this dimension.”
Domestically, the HDP was now on the receiving end of a hate campaign, Pir said.
“The stance of honourable people who struggle against oppression is this: even in inhumane situations they do not lose their humanity. That is what is happening now,” he said.
“Our base has always managed to stay on its feet in the face of inhumane actions, and they will continue to do so.”