Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Turkey will 'walk into' Manbij if U.S. doesn't remove YPG - Erdogan

Turkey will 'walk into' Manbij if U.S. doesn't remove YPG - Erdogan

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the SDF was aided with the cover of airstrikes by the USA -led coalition, and that there was still fighting in the fields outside the town, according to Fox News.

Turkish sources informed that the objective of this attack was to cut the logistic lines of the PKK/YPG from northern Iraq to northern Syria and, therefore, described it as preliminary to the Turkish army's near operation against the YPG's presence in the eastern side of the Euphrates River.

On Thursday, the last IS fighters were confined to a network of tunnels and the edges of Hajin, which lies in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the border with Iraq.

SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani told Reuters on Thursday that there were believed to be about 5,000 Islamic State fighters holed up in the pocket of territory and that they had made a decision to fight to the death.

ISIS had managed to hold on to the town of Hajin and the villages nearby for over a year.

According to Abdel Rahman, a total of 17,000 fighters from the Kurdish-Arab SDF alliance are involved in the operation to flush IS out of its last bastion.

At least 900 jihadists and 500 SDF fighters were killed in the fighting, the Observatory said.

Thousands more civilians who had remained, voluntarily or not, in the Hajin area have fled their homes since the start of the offensive three months ago.

Brett McGurk, the USA presidential envoy in the fight against ISIS, said this week that "almost every ISIS fighter is wearing a suicide vest".

"We've done a very, very major job on ISIS", he said on Tuesday, using another acronym for IS. There are very few of them left in that area of the world. "The End of Days for ISIS [Daesh] in the MERV is getting closer to reality, however, they still have the capability for coordinated attacks, and the fight is not over", Ryan said.

Western and other officials have repeatedly announced deadlines for a final victory over Islamic State militants but the group is proving resilient.

On Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey would carry out a cross-border operation in "a few days" against the YPG, the Kurdish People's Protection Units that forms the bulk of the USA -backed ground force fighting against the Islamic State in Syria. "Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij". American troops are stationed in Manbij.

A letter sent by USA diplomats to the Syrian opposition, a copy of which was obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday, says: "We urge all factions of the Free Army not to participate in any operation east of the Euphrates River".

Meanwhile, Ankara said a Turkish soldier was killed in the northern Syrian region of Afrin after coming under fire from Kurdish fighters.

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