Erdogan: Turkey will enter Syria’s Manbij if US doesn’t remove YPG fighters

Published: Updated:

Turkish forces will enter the Syrian town Manbij if the United States does not remove the YPG Kurdish militia from the area, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after Ankara said this week it would launch a new operation to target the fighters.

Erdogan, in a speech in Istanbul, said Turkey was determined to bring peace to the area east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

ALSO READ: UN Security Council authorizes Syria aid deliveries for another year

Ankara and Washington have long been at odds over Syria, where the United States has backed the YPG in the fight against ISIS.

Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

US-backed Syrian forces take ISIS-held town

Meanwhile, reports have come in that Syrian fighters backed by the United States have driven ISIS from the town of Hajin in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group said on Friday.

Hajin is the last big town held by ISIS in its remaining pocket of territory east of the Euphrates River near the border with Iraq.

ALSO READ: Turkish soldier killed in Syria’s Afrin: ministry

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has been battling to finish off ISIS for several months in the area.

SDF officials could not immediately be reached for comment. SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani told Reuters on Thursday that at least 5,000 Islamic State fighters remain holed up in the pocket of territory including Hajin and that they had decided to fight to the death.