Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday that Turkey and the U.S. are set to decide on a roadmap concerning Syria’s Manbij on March 19, adding that Turkish forces would carry out a military operation if those failed.
The northern city of Manbij has been under the occupation of terrorists from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Çavuşoğlu said that both the U.S. and Turkey will accompany YPG terrorists as they withdraw from Manbij.
Speaking to reporters on his flight to Moscow, Çavuşoğlu also said Turkey had not made any demands from the Syrian government regarding Manbij, and added Ankara would monitor the return of weapons given to the YPG by the United States, an issue that has strained ties between the NATO allies.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict.
Afrin city center surrounded, says Turkish army
Turkish Armed Forces announced on Tuesday that the Afrin city center, in northwestern Syria, has been surrounded since Monday as part of the Turkish-led Operation Olive Brach.In a written statement, the Turkish General Staff said the center of Afrin has been surrounded since Monday as a result of the ongoing operations in the region and “critically important areas” have been seized.The Turkish army and FSA have besieged the town of Afrin, 90 villages and a nearby town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday, confirming the Turkish military’s statement that it had encircled the area.Video: FSA forces advance in Afrin region amid Operation Olive BranchA total of 3,393 terrorists have been “neutralized” since the start of the operation, the army said in a statement on Tuesday morning.Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.TAF: 3,393 terrorists ‘neutralized’ in Afrin opAccording to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, it said.The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that “utmost care” is being taken to avoid harming civilians.