Displaced civilians await end of YPG occupation of Manbij

Residents displaced from Manbij in northern Syria by the country’s offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, the YPG, are now waiting for their homeland to be cleared of terrorists so they can return.

YPG terrorists have forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee to areas near the Turkish border from the Manbij neighborhood in Aleppo, which they occupied six years ago with US help under cover of fight Daesh.

Residents have been forced to migrate from Manbij, where more than 90% of the population is Arab, due to YPG practices, including the forced recruitment of young people into its armed ranks under the pretext of “compulsory military service”.

Displaced people from Manbij have been living away from their homes for about six years in makeshift tents they set up with their own means around the districts of al-Bab and Jarablus on the Turkish border.

Abdullah Shilash, the leader of the Beni Sait tribe in Manbij, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they are ready to do their part to rid their district of terrorists.

“We want the city to be liberated as soon as possible. We have been displaced for many years. We support President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statements,” he said, referring to the president’s recent announcement that Turkey was considering ridding Manbij and Tal Rifaat. YPG/PKK terrorists.

Pointing out that the YPG detains young Arabs with practices such as “compulsory military service”, he said, “Everyone is ready (for the operation). Those in the district and the displaced are ready.”

Turkey is ready to rid Tal Rifaat and Manbij regions in northern Syria, near the Turkish border, of terrorist elements in a bid to eliminate the terrorist threat from the region, Erdoğan said last week.

“We are taking another step by establishing a 30-kilometre security zone along our southern border. We will clear Tal Rifaat and Manbij,” he said, adding that the planned military operations would gradually continue in more other parts of northern Syria.

Erdoğan said that since the United States and Russia have not fulfilled their commitments to provide a safe zone along the border region, Turkey is ready to mount an operation to protect the nation and the people of northern Syria from the YPG/PKK terrorist threat. .

In October 2019, Russia pledged to withdraw the terror group from Tal Rifaat and Manbij after reaching an agreement with Turkey during Operation Peace Spring. Moscow also promised that the terrorists would be pushed back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the border on the M4 road and into the area outside the Operation Peace Spring area.

Similarly, then-Vice President Mike Pence promised Turkey that the YPG/PKK terrorist group would withdraw from the Operation Peace Spring region.

Ali Suleiman from Manbij said thousands of young people have been forced to migrate because of so-called compulsory military service.

While waiting for the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Syrian National Army (SNA) to act so that he can return to his district, he said: “We are counting the days to return to our lands”.

Another displaced person, Cuma Hatib, said he supported any military operation that would allow displaced civilians to return home and stop fleeing YPG persecution.

“I haven’t seen Manbij for years because of the YPG/PKK terrorist organization. I hope a military operation will start as soon as possible to rid the area of ​​terrorists.”

The YPG terrorist organization harasses the predominantly Arab population of Manbij with its impositions, prompting Manbij residents to stage protests from time to time against the terrorist group’s practices such as conscription.

Putting pressure on the inhabitants of Manbij to accept their demands, the terrorist organization monopolizes the fuel in the district, which had a pre-war population of 1 million, depriving the inhabitants of the resource.

More recently, residents of the Syrian district of Azaz staged a protest against Bashar Assad’s regime and the YPG terrorist group on Sunday.

Having been forcibly displaced from their lands by the YPG in northern Syria, the people of Tal Rifaat gathered in the center of the Azaz district and demanded the TSK and the SNA to clear their lands of terrorists.

Syrian opposition forces have also said they are ready to join the Turkish military in a possible new cross-border counter-terrorism operation against the YPG in the north to liberate towns and villages with large Arab populations from terrorists.

The YPG/PKK mainly carries out terrorist attacks in Manbij, Ain al-Arab and the Tal Rifaat neighborhood in Aleppo. The terrorist group even uses these regions as bases for its attacks. The YPG, which occupies about a third of Syrian territory with US support, frequently targets Azaz, Marea, al-Bab, Jarablus, Afrin, Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain in the north of the country with heavy weapons.

In their attacks, the terrorists use advanced heavy weapons such as TOW missiles, multi-barreled rocket launchers, Katyusha and Grad missiles as well as US and Russian-made rocket launchers and mortars.

The YPG has controlled much of northeastern Syria since the withdrawal of Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad’s forces in 2012. The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the United States, Turkey, and the European Union, and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has been a major constraint. on bilateral relations with Ankara. The United States has mainly partnered with the YPG in northeast Syria to fight the terrorist group Daesh. By contrast, Turkey has firmly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long opposed US support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes the local population, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.

While acknowledging Turkey’s security concerns, US State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed concerns about Turkey’s plans, saying a new operation could undermine regional stability and put the American forces in danger.

Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful counterterrorism operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terrorist corridor and allow the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield (2016), Olive Branch (2018) and Peace Spring (2019). ).

In 2019, an operation in northeast Syria against the YPG drew widespread international condemnation, prompting Finland, Sweden and others to restrict arms sales to Turkey. Today, Turkey is blocking the historic attempt by the two Nordic countries to join NATO due to the arms ban and their support for the terror group.

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Michael A. Bynum