Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday said the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militant group in northern Syria, would be disarmed as part of a roadmap that Turkey and the US endorsed yesterday, the NTV news website reported.
“I didn’t get the idea that they would designate the YPG as a terrorist group, but the YPG will be disarmed when they leave the city,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Monday in Washington and endorsed a roadmap for the security of the Syrian city of Manbij.
The Turkish foreign minister held a press conference in Turkey’s southern Antalya province on Tuesday to explain the details of the roadmap, indicating that he had discussed three stages of the plan with Pompeo.
Çavuşoğlu said in the first stage there will be preparatory meetings between the sides and in the second, the YPG will leave Manbij.
In the third stage, the US and Turkey will decide who will run the city. He also underlined there would be no involvement of a third country.
The YPG on Tuesday announced they would withdraw their military advisors from Manbij, Reuters reported.
Senior US officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a US-Turkey deal for the YPG to withdraw from Manbij includes “estimated timelines” but no hard-and-fast deadlines for steps to be taken. They say implementation will be timed based on events on the ground.
According to US officials, the Syrian city will be governed by “locals” who are “mutually agreeable” to the U.S. and Turkey after the YPG’s withdrawal.
“These steps are a chance both for Syria’s future and for fixing our frayed relationship with the US. For that, the roadmap must be fully implemented. Both sides are determined on this,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“We will implement this roadmap in Manbij now, and later on, we will start to implement it in other cities. Then the attitude of the US will be clear. Will it pull the YPG back, or what? There are many Arabs in the YPG as well. We said we don’t know about the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]. All of them are equal to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” he added.
According to Turkish authorities, the YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK. However, the US has been backing the SDF, a joint force mainly comprising YPG militants, as part of a plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).