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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

US-backed Kurdish militants slam Turkish threats as 'declaration of war'

Iran Press TV

Fri Dec 14, 2018 05:22PM

The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed coalition of mainly Kurdish militants that maintains a grip on northeastern Syria, together with its component, the People's Protection Units (YPG), have censured Turkish threats of a new operation in the crisis-hit Arab country as a "declaration of war", calling on world powers to stop the assault.

"All the forces in north and east Syria...are asked to agree on strategies to confront this aggression," they said in a statement released on Friday.

Syrian Kurdish militant groups have vowed to fight "to the death" in the event of a new Turkish operation in northeastern Syria.

"We will defend the north and the east of Syria to the death," SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed told Russia's Sputnik news agency on Friday.

She noted that the SDF would not like to see a situation similar to what happened earlier this year in Afrin, where Ankara conducted a military operation.

Earlier on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country's military forces will enter Manbij city in northern Syria if the United States fails to remove YPG militants from the area.

"Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization," Erdogan told members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in a speech in Istanbul.

He added, "Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly."

"We are not only providing security for our country when taking steps in Syria but we are also protecting the honor of people," Erdogan said.

The Turkish president said on Wednesday that "It is time to realize our decision to wipe out terror groups in the east of Euphrates."

"We will start the operation to clear the east of the Euphrates from separatist terrorists in a few days," he added.

A spokesman for the Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army said on Thursday that up to 15,000 militants are prepared to support Turkey's latest operation.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

Turkey has complained over the slow implementation of a deal with Washington to pull YPG Kurdish militants out of Manbij, which lies in mainly Arab territory west of the Euphrates, back to the eastern bank of the river.

The United States, which has set up observation posts on the Syrian side of the border, has warned Turkey against a new incursion and said the newly constructed positions would help deter any security threat against Turkey coming from Syria.

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