Turkey, US to form 'Safe Zone' around Syria's Manbij

TEHRAN, Mar. 15 (MNA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin has announced that Ankara and Washington would form a "safe zone" around Syria's Manbij if the US "keeps promises."

In an interview with the TRT Haber broadcaster, Kalin said that the deal was binding and that a change in the US Secretary of State would not change it even if it leads to a 1-2 week delay.

According to him, Ankara expects to clear Afrin of the Kurdish militants "very soon."However, Turkey has no intention to hand over the town to the Syrian government after the military operation ends, he added.

Ankara Since has been conducting an operation in Afrin, codenamed "Olive Branch" against Kurdish fighters since January 20. The operation came as a response to the US announcement that it had been training a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria, comprised of the Syrian Kurds' People's Protection Units (YPG), which is considered by Turkey to be affiliated with the Kurdistan's Workers' Party (PKK), regarded by Ankara as a terrorist organization.

This Tuesday, March 7, 2017 frame grab from video provided by Arab 24 network, shows US forces take up positions on the outskirts of the Syrian town, Manbij, a flashpoint between Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters and US-backed Kurdish fighters, in al-Asaliyah village, Aleppo province, Syria.

After launching the operation, Ankara said that the military endeavor was likely to expand in the direction of the neighboring city of Manbij, where the US has around 2,000 of its military personnel deployed.

Later on, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged the US to withdraw from Manbij and called on Washington to prevent redeployment of the YPG from Manbij to Afrin.

US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel, however, said the US was not planning to withdraw forces from the city.

SPUTNIK/MNA

News Code 132841

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