Last Kurdish forces leave Syria’s Manbij, allied fighters say

Members of the Kurdish internal security forces stand on their vehicle in front of a giant poster showing portraits of fighters killed fighting against ISIS in Manbij. (File photo: AP)

The last members of a Kurdish militia pulled out on Sunday from the Syrian town of Manbij, allied Arab fighters said, under a deal reached to avoid clashes with Turkey.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) led the victorious 2016 offensive to rid Manbij of the Islamic State group and had kept military advisers in the town to train local forces.

It announced last month it would begin withdrawing from the town as the local Manbij Military Council was capable of holding it on its own.

“The last group of military advisers from the People’s Protection Units finished withdrawing on July 15, 2018 after completing their mission to train and develop our forces, under the deal with the international coalition,” the MMC said.

The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has ousted IS from swathes of Syria with help from the US-led coalition.

But the militia is considered a “terrorist” group by Ankara, which sees it as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey.

Ankara and allied rebels overran the YPG’s northwestern bastion of Afrin in March and threatened to continue on to Manbij.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51