Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, said on Sunday that American troops will not be withdrawn from Manbij, a strategically important city in northern Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Saturday called on the US to withdraw personnel from the Kurdish-held town of Manbij amid tension that escalated between Ankara and Washington following Turkey’s operation in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria.
Gen. Votel told CNN that that withdrawing US forces from Manbij is “not something we are looking into.”
Turkey launched a military operation on Jan 20 in Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD). Turkey sees the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said that Manbij would be the next target.
Hürriyet daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote on Monday that Erdoğan during a phone call last week asked US President Donald Trump to withdraw American soldiers from Manbij due to a Turkish plan to take control of the city.
Manbij is controlled by the Kurdish-led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“If the US administration does not want to confront Turkey – and they don’t want that, neither does Turkey — the solution is clear: Cut off support to terrorists,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said on Thursday.