Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu said on Thursday Turkey would strike against U.S.-backed PYD/PKK terrorists in the Syrian town of Manbij if they did not leave.
Cavuşoğlu gave no deadline. The PYD is an offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) responsible for many terror attack on Turkish soil. It considers their presence in Manbij a hindrance to its efforts to create a "save zone" on Turkish borders.
Cavuşoğlu said the United States appeared confused in its planning for an attack on the Daesh's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. Turkish officials have expressed concern at U.S. plans to enlist the support of PYD/PKK terrorists in the operation rather than Turkish-backed forces.
'German government practices reminiscent of Nazi era'
Turkey is not calling the current German government Nazi, but their practices are reminiscent of that era, Cavuşoğlu
said. Already tense relations between the NATO allies deteriorated after the arrest of a German-Turkish journalist in Turkey. Local German authorities have annoyed Ankara by making it difficult for Turkish ministers to hold campaign events in Germany to support President Tayyip Erdoğan's bid in a referendum next month. Erdoğan has accused Germany of "fascist actions" reminiscent of the Nazi era.
PYD/PKK won’t surrender Manbij, ‘Military Council’ says
The PYD/PKK terrorist group's so-called “Manbij Military Council" on Monday declared that Syria's northern city of Manbij would not be surrendered to Syrian regime forces. In a statement, the council also said that Assad regime forces would only be deployed between forces taking part in the Turkey-led Operation Euphrates Shield and PYD/PKK forces. The PYD/PKK, the council said, would protect itself with U.S. forces stationed to the north of Manbij and regime forces to the city's west and south. Russian military officials had said earlier that Manbij would be handed over to the Assad regime. While U.S. officials said they had no information on the proposed handover, the Syrian regime has kept silent on the issue.Local sources in Manbij told Anadolu Agency that the PYD/PKK had recently handed over three villages in the area but that regime forces had not entirely filled the vacuum. U.S. forces are currently deployed north of Manbij between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the PYD/PKK. According to reports in the media, U.S. Special Forces are now gradually advancing on Manbij's Ayn Dadat area. Manbij is surrounded by U.S. forces from the north and by Syrian regime forces from the south and southwest, with the latter hoping to establish a buffer zone against the FSA in the west. The district is bordered to the east by the Euphrates River. The PYD/PKK currently controls Kobani (also known as Ayn al-Arab), Tell Abyad and Al-Hasakah. This week, the General Command of the Kurdish Regional Government's Peshmerga forces announced that the PKK had sent heavy weapons to Mosul's Sinjar district on Sunday. Sources in Manbij confirm that militants and heavy weaponry have been deployed to Sinjar, taking advantage of the protection afforded by the U.S. presence.Manbij stands only 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. In 2012, the Syrian opposition captured Manbij, but the Daesh terrorist group retook the district in early 2014. With U.S. air support, the PYD/PKK later managed to drive Daesh from Manbij.The U.S. had promised Turkey that the PYD/PKK would leave the area after capturing it, but this promise failed to materialize. Manbij is inhabited mainly by Arabs, with only a couple thousand Kurds and Turkmen living there.*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara
Bahçeli's remarks on Germany show unity: Turkish PM
Turkey's prime minister Monday praised remarks by an opposition party leader backing Ankara's position in the dispute over Germany banning Turkish officials' rallies, saying the remarks showed "unity". In a TV interview, Binali Yıldırım said opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's attitude served as a good message to Europe and how it is treating the April 16 Turkish constitutional referendum. "This was a good message to Europe and I think it is important to show how Turkey is united in national affairs," Yıldırım said. Earlier on Monday, Bahçeli told a Turkish TV channel that he would be glad to accompany President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a potential rally in Europe. “If the president decides to go to Europe, he is not alone in his decision. As the MHP leader, I would go to Europe along with him," Bahçeli said. Yıldırım also told how in a phone call on Saturday he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the recent rally ban crisis between the two countries. "We clearly expressed Turkey's concerns on the issue. Democracy means freedom, democracy means sharing ideas without being subject to any restrictions." "If Germany does this [a rally ban], it makes what they say to Turkey about democracy meaningless," Yıldırım said. Relations between Turkey and Germany plunged to a new low last week after local German authorities cancelled rallies of Turkey's justice and economy ministers, who were scheduled to meet the representatives of Germany's 3 million-strong Turkish community, on the proposed constitutional changes. On Sunday, Erdoğan slammed German authorities for undermining the freedom of expression and right to assembly, saying such policies "are no different from the Nazi ones of the past". Nearly 1.5 million Turkish residents in Germany are eligible to vote in Turkey's April 16 referendum on constitutional reforms, which include a switch to a presidential system of governance. Turkish citizens in Germany can cast their votes at Turkish consulates between March 27 and April 9. - Syrian jet crashes in Hatay In other remarks on Monday, Yildirim said the pilot of the Syrian regime fighter jet that crashed in Turkey is still undergoing treatment. A decision on whether to deport him would be made after the whole event is clarified, Yildirim said. He said family members of the pilot have made a request to visit him in Turkey, adding, "I think it is appropriate to allow that." The jet crashed in Hatay province near the Turkish-Syrian border late Saturday. A Syrian opposition group has claimed it shot down a regime aircraft. The pilot has been found alive after ejecting safely. - Manbij operation against PYD/PKK Regarding the Syrian city of Manbij, Yildirim said: "There is no point in doing an operation without coordinating with Russia and the US there." He added that "the consequences may become more complicated" if Turkey-backed opposition forces take actions in Manbij without coordinating with the actors on the ground. "Therefore, military, technical level negotiations continue" with Russia and the U.S., the prime minister said. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took control of Manbij from Daesh in August with the support of coalition air cover, and on-the-ground trainers and advisers. The SDF is led by the YPG, a group the U.S. has consistently relied on as its principal partner in the anti-Daesh fight in northern Syria. Turkey has designated the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK. The U.S. and EU have similarly labeled the PKK, but have refrained from following suit on the YPG, to Ankara's consternation. Turkey has insisted YPG elements leave Manbij and withdraw east of the Euphrates River.
Four Turkish soldiers wounded in PYD attack on al-Bab
Four Turkish soldiers were wounded on Monday in a mortar attack launched by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The mortar rounds were fired from Manbij onto the rural al-Bab territory where the Turkish Armed Forces are stationed. The wounded soldiers, who are specialized sergeants from the Muş 49th Commando Brigade, were taken to the Çobanbey Sıhhi evacuation point on the border. One of the wounded soldiers was brought to Gaziantep by helicopter, and the remaining three soldiers were taken to Kilis Public Hospital in two ambulances. It was reported by the Turkish Armed Forces that targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)-affiliated PYD terrorists were destroyed using heavy artillery. The Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, aided by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), was launched in late August to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the threat of terror along the Turkish-Syrian border.PKK/PYD operates under US, Russian flags in Manbij against Turkey Syria: Regime raids kill 9 in Idlib, Homs 'PYD represents Kurds in Syria' a huge lie: Turkish Defense Minister US aware of Russian, Syrian aid convoy to Manbij