Erdoğan signals Turkish troops will enter Kurdish-held Kobane, Manbij

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Armoured vehicles of Turkish Armed Forces patrolling in the northern Syrian city of Manbij on June 22, 2018. AFP PHOTO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signaled that the Turkish army will enter the Kurdish-held Syrian cities of Manbij and Kobane as part of a military incursion into Syria that was launched last week, the Turkish media reported.

“As you know, according to our agreement on Manbij with the United States, the terrorist groups should have left the town within 90 days. But it has been a year, and they haven’t,” Erdoğan told reporters at İstanbul Atatürk Airport on his way to Azerbaijan.

In June 2018 Turkey and the US agreed on a roadmap for Manbij’s future, foreseeing the establishment of a local council for administration of the city after the Kurdish forces left.

Manbij has been controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a US ally in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist organization that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey’s Southeast.

“As for Kobane, with the positive approach from Russia, it won’t be difficult [for Turkish army],” Erdoğan said, “and in Manbij, we will implement our own plans.”

The Turkish president has said that Turkey would not control these cities but would merely allow the Arab majority to establish its own administration.

“Our approach is to provide them security,” Erdoğan said.

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