Governors and local mayors of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa and Diyarbakır provinces did not show up for scheduled appointments with Linda Stuart Specht, the US consul in Adana, who recently went on a regional tour of Turkey’s Southeast.
Speaking during a meeting with local journalists at the Southeast Journalists Association in Diyarbakır on Wednesday, Specht said meetings were arranged with governors and mayors in order to hear their opinions and to talk about political and economic developments in the region; however, none of them showed up at the prearranged times.
“Though the program of the visit included previously arranged meetings with governors and mayors of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Diyarbakır, none of the provincial officials of the three cities attended the scheduled meetings,” she stated.
On Tuesday the US Central Command (CENTCOM) shared photos of female Kurdish militia members, part of People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in Syria fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), training for the takeover of the terrorist group’s stronghold of Raqqa.
The CENTCOM posts came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced at a press conference in Ankara on Tuesday on his way to a meeting in Pakistan that Turkey’s next target in Syria would be Manbij, which has become a subject of disagreement between Washington and Ankara as Turkey demands that Kurdish YPG forces leave the north Syrian town.
Underlining that Ankara had reached an agreement with coalition forces for steps to be taken in Raqqa and Manbij, Erdoğan said: “We told this to our American friends. The YPG should move to the east of the Euphrates; the area should be left to the locals of Manbij.”
Since the US declared the YPG a strong “local partner on the ground” in the fight against ISIL and provided military support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mainly consists of YPG militia, Erdoğan has accused Washington of arming terror groups in Syria against Turkey.
The Turkish government considers the YPG crossing to the western bank of the Euphrates, where Manbij sits, a “red line.”