Syrian Forces Trying to Run 'Psychological Operation' in Manbij - Erdogan
14:32 28.12.2018(updated 16:42 28.12.2018)
The Syrian state broadcaster earlier reported that the Syrian Arab Army had entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Arab Republic after receiving a request from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) to take control of the city amid Turkey's envisaged offensive in the area.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the report on Manbij passing under Damascus' control a "psychological operation", and said that the situation in the region remains unclear.
"This is a psychological operation. They have raised a flag. An hour ago I spoke with the intelligence, there is nothing definite yet. Tomorrow morning our delegation will go to Moscow. Foreign ministers, intelligence, and defence ministers will discuss the situation from all angles there. After that, I will hold phone talks with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. My visit to Sochi or Moscow is also possible", Erdogan told reporters.
Erdogan further stated that Turkey's main goal in Syria was to make terrorists leave the Mideast country, adding that Ankara wanted Kurdish militia to "learn a lesson" in the Arab Republic.
"We are against dividing Syria, our goal is to have terrorists out of there. Then we will have no other business there", he said.
In the meantime, Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) had no authority to invite others to Manbij and warned all parties against destabilising the region.
In a parallel development, the main Turkey-backed Syrian rebel force said that its convoys, along with Turkish forces, were heading towards the frontlines with Manbij, in "full readiness… to start military operations" to liberate the city, Reuters reported.
Earlier in the day, the Syrian government's army entered Manbij after the YPG called on Damascus to take control of the city as Erdogan announced that Turkey was ready to launch an operation in the area.
"Considering the obligations of the army to respond to the call by the people of Manbij, the General Staff declares that the army has entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic there", the statement read as cited by the Syrian state broadcaster.
The northern Syrian town of Manbij, previously controlled by the YPG, was left by the Kurdish forces who said they would be concentrating on the fight against Daesh* to the east of the Euphrates.
"In conjunction with this, we invite the Syrian government forces, which are obliged to protect the same country, nation and borders, to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion", the YPG said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Turkish president stated that Ankara was ready to kick off a military operation against Kurdish fighters in Manbij, but later said that the launch of the offensive would be postponed following a phone conversation with his US counterpart Donald Trump, who decided to pull American troops out of Syria last week.
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
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